Growing up, I didn't know para-sport apart from the Paralympics which was held every four years. I did sports as a child, but it was either RDA (Riding Disabled Association) or normal sport with non-disabled kids.
Para-sport is able-bodied sports which is modified for people with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities. This modification can be anywhere from, playing on a hard surface, using wheelchair, or to even modify the scoring system to make it fair for disabled folks to participate in sport.
As a child I played, Aussie Kick (junior AFL) at my local club, horse riding with RDA and gymnastics, but I always knew that something was missing. I didn't really find out what para-sports was until I was 15; we contacted Rebound WA, and they pointed us in the direction of para-athletics and that's where my para journey began. Thanks to them, I was doing athletics for the next four years, and it has been the best. From there, after covid I started wheelchair tennis. Tennis in a chair is harder than it looks, but even though I'm not good at the sport I love doing it.
Over the years, I have met so many para-athletes either face-to-face or online. Thanks to Rebound WA; I got involved in para-athletics in my teens, and I found my sporting community. Through talking to other athletes online, I felt a sense of belonging in the para-community.
Reflecting back to my first junior national championships in 2017, the young lady that I was against was really excited that there was another seated thrower. I didn't know why she was really excited to see another disabled folk being involved in para-sport, but I quickly realised para-sport in general is quite small, and it's always great when people join. From personal experience, I wished I knew about para-sport from a younger age, but I'm glad that I found para-sport when I did.
Once I got into the para community, I found the passion to get more people into our little community. Para-sports is so small in general which is really sad to hear. From personal experience, my parents found it really difficult to get me into sport with other young disabled people; and I think this falls back on the lack of awareness that there is for para-sport within the disability community, and in the media.
How can you help?
1. Spread the word – If you know someone with a disability who might be interested tell them about para-sport. There are para-sporting organisations across the country that can help you to get involved:
Western Australia – Rebound WA
New South Wales – Wheelchairsports NSW
Northern Territory – Disability Sports Northern Territory
Victoria – Disability Sports & Recreation
Queensland – Sporting Wheelies & Disabled Association
Tasmania – Paraquad Association of Tasmania
2. If you are a parent of a disabled child, my advice is if your child is keen in sport let them try it. With sport, you get a physical workout at the same time that you meet new people.
Thank you so much to everyone that reached the end of this blog. If you found it interesting, please spread the word! And if you like this blog, please subscribe down below!