As a part of the QUT Guild’s Wellness Festival, Glass are getting in touch with some of the professionals visiting QUT. Physical health week is upon us, and will feature a mini Paralympics being put on by Sporting Wheelies. Glass caught up with Cassandra Grey from Sporting Wheelies to talk abilities, physical health, and Wellfest. Cassandra is also the Abilities Officer at the QUT Student Guild.
Who exactly are Sporting Wheelies?
Sporting Wheelies are a charity dedicated to creating opportunities for people with disabilities to lead an active and healthy life with active goals. Sporting Wheelies have been a huge part of the disability sporting community for many decades in Queensland and thanks to Sporting Wheelies many people with disabilities have been empowered and able to thrive to reach their goals, whether this is representing Australia at the Paralympics or improving their function.
What do Sporting Wheelies do, and what will they be doing at Wellfest?
Sporting Wheelies provide a whole range of services and programs. At Sporting Wheelies HQ in Albion there is an inclusive and adaptive health and fitness centre where anyone is welcome to attend general gym or work with one of the highly experienced Accredited Exercise Physiologists. There are also opportunities for students to complete their university placement in the health and fitness centre with the Exercise Physiologists. Everyone is welcome at the Sporting Wheelies health and fitness centre in Albion. Having personally been a member going to the gym there regularly for a couple of years the community at Sporting Wheelies is fantastic. Everyone is so welcoming, everyone can relate to what you might be going through and no one focuses on what you “can’t” do, it’s all about empowerment and focusing on what you “can” do. It’s a wonderful place and more than just a gym.
Sporting Wheelies also run sports programs and competitions around Queensland including wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, boccia, para powerlifting and goalball. Also, Sporting Wheelies’ Raising the Bar Program employs around 30 people with disabilities (including myself) as Game Changers in Queensland who work in community engagement and peer support. Some of the work Game Changers have done include inclusive schools visits, corporate sports demonstrations and speaking presentations.
The Wellfest Mini Paralympics is going to be a fantastic event! Sporting Wheelies are bringing professional players and equipment to teach us all and help us all play wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, boccia and goalball plus a wheelchair obstacle course as well. Everyone is welcome – staff, students, with disability, without disability, absolutely everyone! If you’ve always wanted to play a para sport or you’re curious what it’s like to live with a disability, this is your chance to come down, meet and learn from these awesome athletes, hop in a wheelchair or put on a blindfold and have a go! Don’t forget to Register for Paralympics on Humanitix.
What does this kind of visibility on campus mean for people with disabilities?
Sporting Wheelies’ and Game Changers’ work is all about community engagement, raising awareness of disability, encouraging inclusive communities and changing attitudes on what is possible for people with disabilities. The Wellfest Mini Paralympics is a perfect example of this work in action. Having these kinds of events where people without disability can be involved and briefly experience something different to their daily reality allows for disability to be normalised in the community which is extremely important. Normalisation of disability allows communities to be more inclusive and decreases harmful stereotypes and attitudes about disability among other benefits.
What are some of the main ways Sporting Wheelies interact with the community?
The team of Game Changers at Sporting Wheelies is all about getting out into the community. We’ve gone into schools and taught kids how to play boccia, goalball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. We’ve had workplaces and organisations come to the health and fitness centre. Us Game Changers really engage people and create positive social change through sharing our stories and having conversations. Part of the Raising the Bar Program is also about peer support so our Game Changers go along to the different sports programs and interact with the players giving them support if they need it as someone with lived experience.
Another great program at Sporting Wheelies is RecCONNECT in Brisbane and Mackay. RecCONNECT is an inclusive recreational program all about having fun, making friends, learning new skills and being active participating in the community. Everyone is welcome of all ages and abilities and RecCONNECT can be NDIS funded. You can find more information at https://www.sportingwheelies.org.au/sports/social-group/
Where can people find Sporting Wheelies?
To stay up to date on everything Sporting Wheelies, make sure to like Sporting Wheelies on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sportingwheeliesanddisabledassociation/ and follow Sporting Wheelies on Instagram at @sportingwheelies.
If people have a disability and are looking to improve their health and fitness or play a sport, they can give Sporting Wheelies a call on (07) 3252 3333, send a message via the Sporting Wheelies website https://www.sportingwheelies.org.au/contact/ or come down to Sporting Wheelies HQ at 31 Dover Street, Albion for a tour.
If people are interested in having Sporting Wheelies Game Changers attend their school, workplace or organisation they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can catch the Paralympics on the 1st of September by registering here.