Joan’s visually impaired (VI) and is a Goalball player from TeamSG. Over the weekend, she was invited by IC2, a prep school for low vision kids, to share about the critical development role of sport participation, and the obstacles preventing kids from being active.
Joan went to a mainstream school, and shared that she was lucky to have parents (both visually impaired) who would call up the school to complain whenever she was excluded from PE lessons or sports. This was in contrast to most of her peers whose parents would call the school to excuse them from “dangerous” physical activities. Joan shared that many of her peers were physically awkward, and were sometimes even mistaken to be both visually and physically impaired! She feels that overprotective parents and a risk adverse environment are to be blame for their lack of co-ordination and balance.
Some of my players have also shared with me that they have never learnt a sport (but they learnt how to play several types of musical instruments) during their school years at schools for the visually impaired. They were also not allowed to run around even in schools due to “safety reasons”.
Just in case that you reckon Joan’s experience is simply anecdotal evidence, there has been rigorous studies to suggest that kids who are deprived of play during critical periods of development will miss out on important milestones, and will never fully realize their genetic potential – physically, affectively and cognitively. Consequently, they are less likely to be active and will more likely suffer from obesity and other health related issues. As they get older, their risk of falling and suffering from a physical impairments is also higher. They end up with more than one impairment!
I hope overprotective aka Kiasu parents realize that if their kids grow up to be “psychomotor idiots”, they are largely to blame. Also, I don’t reckon this relates only to kids with VI. Increasingly, able-bodied kids have also been found to miss out on important developmental milestones due to the lack of play.