Caringbah resident Sarah Stanton knows what it's like to have a child with a disability.
She and her husband Jason, both keen sports players, wanted to watch their son and daughter play sport but the kids - who both have disabilities - weren't able to participate in mainstream offerings.
"Whether it was in teams or gymnastics, they really struggled. We couldn't really access the sports community because just going to a park was hard; going to a cafe, my daughter was under the table, it was too much for her," Mrs Stanton said.
"We thought: where can we take our kids to learn the basics of sport - to catch a pass, in a fun environment? We recognised a huge gap in the market."
Coming from a social work background, Mrs Stanton was already used to helping others, so she coupled these skills with her and her husband's shared passion for keeping fit and they created Skillz4Me.
It's very hard for the parent of a child who is different to work up the courage to come into a new environment without feeling judged.Sarah Stanton
The not-for-profit, all abilities centre offers opportunities to children with a disability or developmental delay to learn vital social skills in a fun and supportive environment.
After the Stantons launched the program on social media in 2016, it quickly grew as parents found somewhere they could connect with other parents like them.
"We began with a basic sporting program to teach kids to kick and pass so they could one day enter mainstream sport. Lots of kids have been able to transition to mainstream sport, but it's also inclusive for kids who won't be able to enter mainstream sport," Mrs Stanton said.
The program links families with other supports in the community - including advocacy groups and getting a diagnosis - and gives them a basic understanding of the NDIS.
"We want to be that place where people go, letting them know there are people who are in the same situation and helping them find where to go," Ms Stanton said.
"It's very hard for the parent of a child who is different to work up the courage to come into a new environment without feeling judged. We're passionate about giving them that support. It changes their lives."
Gymea resident John Wood nominated the Stantons as Local Champions for the vital work they do in the community.
"The joy on the faces of these kids is enough to see what an impact Skillz4Me has had on their lives," Mr Wood said.
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