Sports and outdoors
Sport and recreation
Sporting options for those who like a bit of competition can be team or individual based. Finding a sport that you enjoy is often about trial and error. A good place to start is by joining Disability Sport and Recreation (DSR) Victoria and then receiving their online newsletter of upcoming events. At periodic intervals DSR offer development programs for sports like wheelchair basketball, quad rugby, and handcycling. Check out their website for up to date listings of recreational and sporting events that you can try.
The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) website has heaps of information about paralympic sports. Each sport is explained including the classification system applied. The paralympic sport classification system is used to ensure that athletes of similar functional ability compete against each other. In team sports, an individual will be classified under a points system. The team then has a maximum allocation of points that they can apply at any one time during competition. For individual sport, the athlete is classified into a particular category depending on their functional ability. Every year the APC conducts a talent search program across Australia. If you think you might have what it takes to a Paralympian (or you are just curious) check out the APC website for more details on the Toyota Paralympic Talent Search.
Outdoor adventure activity
The great Australian outdoors offers a plethora of options for recreational activity. Using adaptive equipment and/or techniques is often the key in being able to use and enjoy these environments. Depending on what you want to achieve, having some friends along to assist can also be pretty handy.
There are ways and means for activities like on or off road hand cycling, fishing, camping, sailing, waterskiing, horseriding, SCUBA, snow skiing or paragliding to name a few. Getting into the outdoors might need a little planning and practice, however a lot is possible with an open mind!
Finding an organisation or someone else who has tried things can be a good place to start to get involved.
Disabled Wintersports Australia have been around for 30 odd years and are now a well oiled machine in helping people to experience snow sports in a highly supportive and enthusiastic environment. DWA not only offers grass roots participation, but have comprehensive athlete development programs feeding into national and international competition.
Here is a taster of what a typical DWA ski camp is like!
Hand cycling is a rapidly growing sport, first part of the paralympics in 2004. Hand cycling offers a great way to explore your local community and bike paths and hand bikes have several different designs to suit varying levels of ability. Depending on your level of function you may also be able to ride a conventional bicycle or a recumbent.
There are also designs of handcycles to suit different terrains and activity. Handcycles that suit recreational terrain like bike paths are quite different to those for competitive road racing. Likewise 4 wheel handcycles exist for off road terrain, high gearing for cross country and full suspension design for downhill thrillseekers! R-Onefourcross has some examples of this exciting sport.
SCUBA offers an amazing opportunity to explore the hidden world under the sea. Victoria has many great dive destinations and is also home to the worlds only fully qualified dive instructor who has a SCI. Check out Mike Letch at parafin.org Introductory programs are periodically run in the hydrotherapy pool at Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre. If interested you can contact Community Integration and Leisure Services 9490 7343. Mike and friends diving in Bali.
There are several sailing venues around Victoria, usually based at sailing clubs, that have a range of modified craft and facilities to make sailing more accessible. The Sailability website has contact details for each of these venues. Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre is actually home to a Sailing Simulator, specifically designed to provide people with the option of sailing on dry land! The simulator is used as part of the rehabilitation program to teach people how to sail.
AMG Able Management Group is based in Harrietville at the foot of Mt Hotham. It is a member based organisation and aims to provide access to the Alpine region through the development of adaptive equipment and facilities, so that people with disabilities can participate in sport and recreational activities. Norton House has lodge style accommodation with two large accessible bathrooms and an open plan living and kitchen area.
Over Summer AMG can link you in with local activities such as paragliding, microlighting, or 4-wheel-driving Norton House is situated on the Ovens River and has great facilities for camping, access to the river and off road buggies that have been modified with hand controls.
Over Winter AMG can link you in with snow sports up at Mt Hotham.
What about the impossible?
This may be more of a philosophical discussion than answering the question. However at the end of the day we all have moments when we can't quite find that 'can do' attitude or 'positive self talk' to get us through the seemingly impossible.
Ultimately, the drive to over come the perceived impossible really comes down to how much you want to do something. What is going to make you feel good, connected, give you a feeling of freedom and control? Talk to others, read these pages, start with something 'small', take a look at pictures, or post a question on the forum.