The Kickstart Students

The Kickstart Students

The Blind and Low Vision Education Network New Zealand (BLENNZ) Kickstart group has officially introduced Swish to New Zealand thanks to an Activity Fund grant.

The Kickstart experience provides an opportunity for blind or visually impaired young adults (aged 17-21 years) to live in a supported flatting situation, as they make the transition to tertiary study, the work place or independent living. Students from all over New Zealand and Australia are able to attend the programme for between one and two years.

Cassey Embling came all the way from Melbourne to take part in Kickstart and brought with her a passion for Swish. She had been playing for eight years already and was surprised to find it wasn't available in New Zealand.

Swish is a version of table tennis played by visually impaired people. Players bat a ball, filled with bottle caps, across a table tennis table under a wooden screen. Points are awarded if a player misses a ball or stops the ball mid-play. It is an extremely fast-paced game, which can be played by both visually impaired and sighted people, with no need for blind folds.

The Kickstart students were able to fundraise money to purchase Swish balls and bats from Australia and applied for an Activity Fund grant to purchase the materials to modify a standard table tennis table into a Swish table. They have hardly stopped playing since the table was finished, with one student, Haley Craig, saying that it's one of the best things about the whole Kickstart experience.

The enthusiastic students are now introducing it to other visually impaired people, setting up competitions at BLENNZ and showcased the sport at the Saint Kentigern Halberg Junior Disability Sport Day. We look forward to seeing where to next for the exciting sport of Swish.