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2018 saw important community projects and initiatives supported in the Hunter region with funding totalling $469,000.

Helping rewrite the future with Wheelchair Sports NSW

It was a normal December day for 16 year-old Aimee, a gymnast, ballerina, and school representative track and field athlete, when a fall from the bars at gymnastics training changed her life. 

After being air-lifted to Royal North Shore Hospital, Aimee learned she suffered a serious spine dislocation and damaged spinal cord that would leave her a paraplegic. 

It is common for people with this type of injury to be in hospital for more than six months. For Aimee, less than 48 hours after the accident, she was pushing herself in physical therapy. She was home in three months and returned to school, in her wheelchair, days later. Soon after, she was back on the athletics track.

Aimee attended a Wheelchair Sports NSW motoring day which, according to Aimee’s mum Julie, “was one of the best things that has happened since the accident.”

At the day Aimee tried one of the new Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation race chairs.

Wheelchair Sports NSW received a $30,000 grant from the Charitable Foundation to purchase four specialised racing wheelchairs and two handcycles for the Northern Region Track and Road Athletics Program. 

Joe Shoebridge, Regional Sports Development Officer for Wheelchair Sports NSW, said the program was not about elite athletes, but ensuring people in regional areas have access to sport and a healthy lifestyle, just like any able-bodied person.

The Charitable Foundation’s grant helps families avoid the often high costs of wheelchair based sports.

“After that first circuit around the track in that chair … the smile on her face … it was huge,” Julie said “Aimee can never return to her previous sports due to her injury but with the racing chair she has the opportunity to try a new sport. But this, racing in the chair, she loves this.” 

Aimee, participant at Wheelchair Sports NSW.
Aimee, participant at Wheelchair Sports NSW.

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