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Children in northern New South Wales try wheelchair ball sports

2 min read
wheelchair ball sports

Children are getting the chance to try wheelchair ball sports – thanks to a champion Paralympian who’s delivering an innovative ‘Sports Ability’ program that gives primary school students insight into disability inclusion.  

Australian Paralympian wheelchair tennis player David Johnson is employed by the NDIS Partner in the Community Social Futures and estimates that he has already worked with more than 5,000 students, delivering ‘Sports Ability’ on the NSW North Coast for two years.  

“Trying sport in a wheelchair gives students a whole new perspective around disability and inclusion and it’s also lots of fun to move at speed on wheels and direct a ball,” said Johnson. 

The silver-medallist lost a leg in a car accident when he was a teenager and went on to represent Australia in the men’s open singles and doubles wheelchair tennis in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics. 

The sports ability program includes open discourse on disabilities, basic wheelchair skills, types of wheelchairs and the physical wheelchair ball sports like basketball and tennis.  

Breaking down the basics and getting the students to feel comfortable discussing their understanding of disability, inclusion and the benefits for people with a disability when they enjoy and play sport. 

Collaborating with schools helps create a new narrative around disability and inclusion. The programme provides a good hands-on experience for both students and teachers, it opens their perspective on inclusion and identifies barriers in schools that prevent it.  

“Kids get really engaged, and I love it, and they want more time doing the sports. They’re really open to the idea – and they get comfortable around people with disabilities. I make it fun and we talk lots about accessibility and inclusion for people with all types of disabilities.” 

With more than 65 days of school visits booked, hundreds of school children will be able to enjoy wheelchair sports and learn more about inclusivity. 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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