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GALLERY: Wheelchair sport rolls into Hunter for first time

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Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT CEO Mick Garnett has praised the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation (NPCF) for its strong support.

The chief executive officer, accompanied by Wheelaroo Rick Engles and long-time advocate Brendon Talbott, was quick to extol the virtues of the Hunter-based institution as he launched their Road Safety and Disability Awareness program at PCYC Newcastle on Tuesday 26 September.

After receiving a $120,000 grant, the organisation is aiming to educate the community about the importance of road safety, as well as normalise living with a disability, via its Northern NSW Roadshow.

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation executive officer Carly Bush and Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT CEO Mick Garnett at PCYC Newcastle. Photo: Rod Thompson

In the coming weeks and months, it will visit schools across the Hunter, including Hamilton South OOSH, Maitland Christian College, Whitebridge High School, East Maitland Primary School and Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College.

“It’s important I thank the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for this investment,” Mr Garnett said.

“There are very few organisations, which we work with, that are as progressive as the NPCF.

“And, the way they liaise with partners is really quite enlightening.

“They go with you all the way along.

“The Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation not only sees good ideas, but the team works to develop those with you.

“So, we’re extremely grateful.”

Mr Garnett said Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT had been delivering road safety messaging to school students across NSW for years, however the latest funding allowed them to reach a previously under-serviced community.

“We have identified a real need to spread our message to Newcastle and the wider northern region,” he stated.

“Our two Sydney-based vans are operating at capacity, which means we have had to turn away bookings in the Hunter.

“Without the support of the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, we could only service 6% of potential schools in Newcastle.

“That’s not good enough.

“Due to the NPCF, we now have a van, equipment and wages to support our Northern NSW Roadshows.

“We’re tasked by Transport for NSW to deliver the road safety messaging on their behalf.

“And, we do that with an experience of wheelchair basketball to embed that learning and we employ people with disabilities to implement that program for us.

“This assistance will supercharge our ability to reach more young people.”

Mr Garnett admitted wheelchair basketball was the number one participation sport in Australia.

“In NSW and the ACT, we’ve tripled participation in the past three years,” he said.

“So, it’s very much a sport on the way up.

“And, nine years out from the Australian Paralympic Games, we have a huge focus on growing it even further.

“Wheelchair sport in the Hunter is on the move, too.

“So, we are investing more into here and Northern NSW.

“In terms of building new [wheelchair basketball] hubs, we’ll have one in Port Macquarie shortly.

“We’ve also got a thriving wheelchair sport community in Newcastle itself, which is pleasing to witness.”

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation executive officer Carly Bush said the Road Safety and Disability Awareness program provided community education in an engaging way.

“This type of initiative doesn’t currently exist in our region, which is why we are honoured to partner with Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT to bring this important message to the Hunter,” she explained.

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