Can one person’s story change someone’s life? That’s the principle behind Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association’s Game Changers ambassador program.
Game Changers was launched in 2013 to share the personal stories of Association members with a disability who are living active, healthy lives through regular involvement in sport, fitness and recreation.
The Game Changers come from all walks of life and have vision impairment or physical disabilities including spinal cord injuries, amputations, cerebral palsy and dwarfism. Current Game Changers include dual Paralympian Brenden Hall (swimming) and world record track and field athlete Kobie Donovan. Both juggle their Game Changers commitments with study, training and competing.
By talking about their personal experience of the life-changing benefits of sport and healthy activity, the Game Changers are helping to change community attitudes around disability and inspire people of all abilities to ‘live well’ and chase their dreams.
Feedback from Game Changers sessions for school children and teaching staff, corporate groups, sport and recreation providers, and disability service providers has been overwhelmingly positive since the program began.
Kobie’s sessions in 2015 included addressing 215 Year 8 students at Brisbane’s Lourdes Hill College and motivating trade trainers and support staff at Improve Group Learning Solutions.
Bec Hart from Improve Group Learning Solutions says the staff were “highly impressed” by Kobie’s presentation.
“I believe they saw exactly what it takes to achieve the goals you set for yourself in life,” she said.
“One of our trainers commented that he wished some of his apprentices had even half of the motivation and enthusiasm as Kobie does. It was an engaging presentation and our staff were left trying to get their head around how someone so young can have so much direction and drive to succeed.”
Brenden’s sessions included addressing the full assembly of around 600 students at Ambrose Treacy College to encourage discussion around diversity and inclusion in readiness for the Year 8’s Disability Rights: Inclusion in Sport unit of work.
“What an impressive young man he is!” said Tim Walker, the college’s Health and Physical Education Coordinator.
“There was a beautiful moment when one of our young men with CP who uses a wheelchair told Brenden that he wants to go to the Paralympics for power wheelchair soccer.”
Kobie says her involvement in Game Changers is her way of paying it forward for the support she has received from the Association on her sporting journey.
“Being an ambassador gives me an opportunity to give back to the Association as well as creating greater awareness in the general community of not only disability in general, but the elite sporting world that exists for para-athletes,” says Kobie.
“As an ambassador, I feel it’s important to not only reflect on my own journey, but to hopefully reach out to potential athletes who may not be aware of the opportunities out there.”
To see profiles of the Association’s Game Changers and find out how to book a session, visit www.sportingwheelies.org.au or contact the Association’s Community Engagement and Education Manager Jenny Frowd via email or phone (07) 3253 3333.