Talk about focusing on ability and what you can do! I was recently inspired by Victorian mum Kylie Thulborn and her dedication to ensuring her son Harvey gets the most out of life. I hope I can be at least half the parent to my twin boys as she is to Harvey.
Kylie feels very strongly about ensuring her youngest son has the same opportunities to participate in sport as his older siblings.
Harvey was born with a complex muscle disorder and has a whole host of medical issues, resulting in him requiring a wheelchair to get around.
However, Harvey was also born into a sports-mad family, and inherited the give-it-a-red-hot-go gene as well. Kylie has found ways to adapt sports so that her son is able to participate and reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.
In her blog series at www.open.abc.net.au/posts/tags/harveyblog, and a short documentary film, www.open.abc.net.au/posts/harvey-discovers-chair-skating-53qw6zn/in/tags/harveyblog for ABC Open South West Victoria, Kylie discusses her and Harvey’s journey - from being inspired at their first viewing of a wheelchair rugby match, to how she has adapted from seeing her son receive his first wheelchair at age three to watching her son gleefully wheel to the edge of the skatebowl for the ‘‘drop in’’ amongst the other skaters and BMX riders.
In the blogs, Kylie discusses how the ‘‘active participation’’ ethos works for a youngster technically confined to a wheelchair; how Harvey has participated in the Nippers with the local surf lifesaving club, and got amongst it with the other lads at Auskick, T-ball, hockey and cycling.
While the world prepared for the 2012 London Paralympics, Harvey and his family found themselves travelling to Venice Beach, California to roll with the world’s elite of wheelchair skating - the ‘‘hardcore sitters’’ - demonstrating the agile, gravity-defying culture of skateboarding is no less eye-opening and heart-poundingly exciting for those doing it from a chair.
While in Venice, Harvey had Aaron ‘‘Wheelz’’ Fotheringham as his skills coach. Aaron is the first person to do a backflip in a wheelchair. See his double backflip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI_N5T3pmxQ. Aaron currently travels around the world with the Nitro Circus jumping off huge ramps and doing flips.
For a video about how to chairskate called “Chairskating Lesson #1 - The Drop-In”, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqRK1Lw7Gjc. The video is made by Christiaan ‘‘Otter’’ Bailey, a former pro surfer and skateboarder. In 2006 Bailey crashed on his skateboard, fracturing several vertebrae and leaving him paralysed from the waist down. He is now a pro chair-skater.
Sean O’Neill works for The Disability Trustas the Information and Advocacy Manager. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on twitter at @cinclusiveworld.