“I find it pretty amazing to come along each Saturday and connect with people in a similar situation, and I enjoy playing the game.”

That’s from Wheelchair Rugby player Alysse Gavlik, who’s one of a growing number of people in ParaQuad Tasmania’s weekly program in southern Tasmania.

We chatted to Alysse and others about their experiences in our programs, to share with you during Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week, 4-10 September 2023.

Alysse has been part of the program around a year and says she’s gained fitness and friends.

“I guess one of the biggest things for me is connecting with other people in wheelchairs. I like to ask questions, health questions, share some of my concerns and as a team I guess we cover off all of those issues, whether it’s health related, psychological or even fitness related.

“I’ve also managed to grow a lot of fitness. Whereas previously I’ve sat behind a desk each day and not done a lot on the weekends, now I find I have a lot more energy, I want to do more things and I want to interact a bit more with my community.

Alysse finds a sense of camaraderie among the players.

“We’re all on different levels, we all have different abilities, yet together we come and play as a team. Sometimes I play a hard game, sometimes it’s a soft game and sometimes I get hit by the ball, but it’s always a laugh, it’s always great fun.”

“Whatever level someone wants to participate on, they’re always welcome to come along.”

In another of our sports programs, Boccia, playing together is proving to be a bonus for brothers Joseph and Daniel.

Daniel is now ramp operator for Joseph, who’s been playing Boccia for a number of years.

“I think it has developed my connection with by brother a lot further,” Daniel explained.

As a ramp operator, Daniel has to have his back to play and can only assist Joseph by raising, lowering and positioning the ramp in the direction that Joseph indicates. He also places the ball at the top of the ramp ready for play.  In Joseph’s case, he then taps the ball using an assistive device.

Daniel says the sport provides Joseph “enjoyment and a social aspect that he otherwise might not (get).”

For those of you who may not know, boccia is like bowls but played indoors – the aim being to get balls closest to the jack.

Boccia is played socially and seriously, with some athletes aiming for Paralympic level.

ParaQuad Tasmania organises State Titles events annually. Athletes can compete in national events too, with pathways to international representation.

And what do young people think of our BodySafe Education Program?

This impactful program is offered free to Years 9-12 students around Tasmania, creating conversations about risk taking activity that could lead to spinal cord injury or other physical disability.

Presented by a person with lived experience of SCI, BodySafe regularly receives positive feedback, such as this from Year 10 students at Latrobe High School:

  • Richard was straight to the point and didn’t babble, which kept us interested and engaged in his presentation
  • Richard was very real and honest about his experiences and didn’t sugar coat any of the issues
  • It was very engaging because it is all real-life experiences which is more engaging because we can see the impact of our actions

For more information about the BodySafe Education Program, email schools@paraquadtas.org.au

To get involved in any of our sports programs, email pdst@paraquadtas.org.au

Or give ParaQuad Tasmania a call on 6272 8816.