Unlocking opportunities to enrich the lives of children in the disability sector

Unlocking opportunities to enrich the lives of children in the disability sector

Frame Running Wollongong provides valuable sporting opportunities for kids who rely on wheelchairs and walkers

Frame Running Wollongong, a beacon of hope for children with physical disabilities, is calling for more volunteers who wish to make a meaningful impact on young lives.

Two years ago, Ayrton Munroe was unable to stand or walk independently. Diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that disrupts balance, mobility, speech, and intellectual abilities, Ayrton could not stand or walk independently. His parents, Belinda and Allan, however, found a lifeline in Frame Running Wollongong.

"It's been life-changing for Ayrton," said Belinda, an honorary lecturer in the School of Nursing at the University of Wollongong (UOW). "Frame Running enables him to stand on his own and run, something every energetic five-year-old dreams of. When he's in his frame runner, his face lights up with pure joy."

Frame Running Wollongong, a non-profit community service in the Illawarra region, operates out of UOW’s Sports Hub. It offers children with disabilities or impaired balance the chance to experience the exhilaration of 'free to run' through frame running.

The frame runner is a three wheeled frame, similar to a trike, but with no pedals which supports the athlete as they walk or run. It can be used by people of all ages for recreation and sport at a variety of levels, including children with a disability or impaired movement or balance.

Renee Jurgielan, Director of Frame Running Wollongong, emphasises that frame running goes beyond physical activity.

"It's an avenue for personal growth and social connection," Renee said. "We are the sole organisation in the Illawarra that provides a safe, supportive, and inclusive sporting environment for these children. We are seeking dedicated students to volunteer and develop their practical skills with us."

Volunteers play a pivotal role in transforming lives, not only for the children but also for their parents and caregivers. Building connections and friendships within the community has proven invaluable for parents like Belinda.

"I've had the privilege of connecting with other parents with children with disabilities and sharing our experiences," Belinda said. "It's become a real community for us."

Belinda encourages others to get involved with Frame Running.

"Volunteers bring immense joy to the sessions," she said. "Ayrton has forged beautiful relationships with his volunteers. He loves chasing them and playing games. Seeing him comfortable and having fun with the volunteers makes me relax and enjoy the sessions as well."

“Attending the weekly sessions has built Ayrton’s strength, endurance and fitness,” Belinda said.

“He is now able to walk short distances independently and runs up to three kilometres each week in his frame runner.”

More information

Volunteers should be aged 15 or older. Volunteers aged 18 and above are required to have a current Working with Children Check. Sessions take place every Monday afternoon from 4:20 PM to 5:30 PM at the University of Wollongong's Sports Hub. Please visit the Frame Running Wollongong website for more information.