Words by Abbi Brass
Attending our first WCMX (wheelchair moto-x) event was an eye opener. My son Josh was 4 years old at the time, and seeing him at that event with his peers highlighted the importance of sharing social experiences with others in a similar situation.
When we returned home, I set about finding similar events through various organisations but found that Queensland, where we live, was lacking in junior camps. I was referred to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which offers grants. We were fortunate to receive a grant to attend the WCMX World Championships in the US. We’ve since returned several times to attend the event, and each time Josh grows more confident than the last.
Keen for Josh to have the same opportunities in Australia, I reached out to Luke Bailey, an incredible young up-and-coming athlete. Luke put me in touch with Wheelchair Sports NSW and Josh attended one of their Christmas camps. Again, my heart sang with joy as I watched him playing with his peers while learning new sports. While chatting to Paralympian Kurt Fearnley over lunch at camp, I lamented the lack of camps for juniors in Queensland, and at that moment I realised I would be the one to fill that gap and give local kids the same opportunities as those interstate and overseas.
I approached the CEO of Variety Queensland with my idea and got an enthusiastic response. The camp idea was taken to the board of Variety, approval was received, and my dream camp began to evolve.
The inaugural Variety Kids Sports Camp was held in July 2019 at Runaway Bay Sports Super Centre. The camp is aimed at children aged 6 to 13, but the camp will accept them up to 17 years with a range of physical disabilities. The first camp was fully funded for two days for 20 participants, 20 carers and 20 volunteers.
Variety Kids Sports Camp allows kids to learn new sports, such as track, tennis, adaptive dance, wheelchair skills, obstacle-course racing and so much more. Kids get to meet coaches specialising in their areas of interest and hang out with some of Australia’s top Paralympians. Most importantly, they make new friends, gain confidence and resilience, and become more independent.
The impact on parents also can’t be underestimated. As a mum, it’s a relief to see your kid being a kid without fear of them being judged, bullied or labelled an outcast because they look or feel different.
If you are interested in having your child attend the 2020 Variety Kids Sports Camp or sponsoring the event, email an expression of interest to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit variety.org.au/qld.