Wheelchair Table Tennis Event
March 1st is International Wheelchair Day, a global celebration of the positive impact wheelchairs have on the lives of people around the world. As part of this year’s festivities, Ability Links NSW partnered with the City of Sydney and Wheelchair Sports NSW to put on a ‘come and try’ wheelchair table tennis event. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of people who live with disability, and to promote the importance of social inclusion.
The event was held at Ultimo Community Centre, which is a social hub for a large Chinese-Australian community. Table tennis is a popular activity at the centre, and Ability Linkers and City of Sydney staff spent the morning encouraging centre users to try their hand at playing using a sports wheelchair. For those less sports-inclined, Linkers encouraged them to experience what it is like to sit in and manoeuvre a wheelchair.
Approximately fifty community members got involved on the day, including a group of international students from the Australian International College of English (AICA). Meagan Abrahamsson, a teacher from AICA, observed how valuable it was for her students to engage in awareness activities. Abrahamsson said that it was an effective way to develop empathy and understanding of people who live with disability. One of the regular centre-users said that in the twenty years that they had been playing table tennis, they had not seen anyone who is a wheelchair-user join in. They said activities that raise awareness are important for the community to learn how to be inclusive of people with disability.
Ability Links NSW works with local organisations, community groups and businesses to help shape communities where people with disability are welcome and included. Ability Links NSW also works with people with disability aged 0-64, their families and carers to support them to connect with their community.