IT’S never easy moving cities. Finding contacts and friends takes time.
Getting familiar with services is a matter of doing the hard yards.
And bringing up kids adds another dimension, particularly if they have special needs.
But Lisa Taylor knows when to strike, and bowling is right up her alley.
The mother of five moved to Wangi from Sydney in February.
Her eldest son, Brandon, 17, has Down Syndrome.
In an effort to find friends for him, she started the Down Syndrome Bowling Group at SuperStrike Warners Bay, knowing bowling is popular with kids of all ages.
‘‘I approached the bowling centre to see if they’d be interested in helping us,’’ Lisa said.
‘‘I had no idea what to expect, I just wanted kids to turn up.’’
On the first Friday, back in May, five kids bowled up.
That’s expanded now to 18 regulars.
On the back of this success, SuperStrike is planning to kick off a Saturday league.
‘‘We’re just trying to help kids with DS form friendships with other kids with DS, and it seems to be working.
‘‘The kids absolutely love it and cheer, especially when the Cosmic Bowling kicks in with all the music and lights.
‘‘We play one Friday a month from 6pm to 8.30pm. Everyone gets to play two games.
‘‘We’re looking at getting a league going of a Saturday and have plans to approach local organisations and businesses about getting some bowling shirts done up.
‘‘We have a design in mind and a few ideas for a catchcry.
Kim Hurst was the first point of contact at SuperStrike Warners Bay and was instrumental in getting the Saturday morning league concept off the ground.
‘‘I suggested to Lisa we set up a league for themselves and she thought it was a great idea,’’ Kim said.
‘‘Bowling is something the kids really enjoy anyhow, and I thought if there was a league and trophies, they’d be ecstatic.
‘‘It would give them a lot of joy and that would give me a lot of joy too.’’
SuperStrike Warners Bay runs several special needs leagues already and centre manager Fiona Jenner is keen to get a Saturday league for the kids going.
‘‘We have like 50 comps at the centre, and about six of those are special needs,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re looking at this new one with Kim and Lisa in late January to do with school-age special needs, the primary school age.
‘‘We’ve met with principals, and [are] getting the word out. We’ll be at Speers Point on November 28 with the portable bowling lane as part of Lake Macquarie’s City Council’s activities for International Day of People With Disability.
‘‘Bowling is just something anybody can do – it’s all ability, all age, all weather, every week.’’
Lisa also got in touch with Candy Connors, the liaison and support officer for Down Syndrome NSW (Hunter Region) who helped make up posters, sorted out a Facebook page (DSbowling) and put up dates and times.
Candy said she chose to support the group because of Lisa.
‘‘Lisa had so much energy, enthusiasm and determination that I thought it was important to help her get the group off the ground,’’ Candy said.
‘‘She was aware there was a shortage of services for kids with DS, and the bowling idea was perfect because no matter what your tastes are, it seems like everyone loves to bowl.
‘‘We were fully supportive about getting it out into our contact loop and it’s just been such a huge success. She’s done a top job.’’
Building on its success so far, the group is continuing its monthly bowling fixture, with the next outing set down for December 19.
Lisa is looking for sponsors to fund team shirts for the children, offering to feature the logo of a business supporting the group on the team shirts.