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Hamish McKenzie of Australia bats

Hamish McKenzie of Australia bats

Of all the sports I could think of, cricket is probably the least likely I would choose to play blindfolded.

It stands as a testament to the great Australian commitment to sport that there has been a Blind Cricket Association since 1922 when returned WWI veterans decided that they could still play – despite sight loss from war injuries – and fashioned a ball out of a tin can with rocks placed inside so they could hear, rather than see, the ball.

The fist interstate match was played in 1928 between Vic and NSW in Sydney with a return call played the next year in Melbourne.

Today the audible ball is a little more sophisticated with a similar shape, weight and size as a conventional cricket ball. The game is played in all states and there is currently the biennial championships being played in Adelaide as I write.

It is the only sport aside from the Paralympics for which a person with disability can represent Australia internationally. Talent scouts are at the championships right now scanning for future members of the Australian team that play in England, India and Sri Lanka.

Everyone is watching the cricket now and feeling proud of being Australian, but I think that the guys playing with the audible ball say a lot more about what is truly remarkable about the Australian spirit.

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Home is where the heart is

In the last couple of days the story of Naomi Clarke has surfaced, whose at-home care needs exceed the funding guidelines for Disability SA. She has fallen into the category of individuals who face leaving their home for fulltime care in either a nursing home or assisted accommodation. She is 44.

Naomi has Kyphoscoliosis and a spinal cord injury resulting from a botched operation when she was five. She has been confined to a wheelchair since then, however this did not impede her receiving a mainstream education and working fulltime up until her organs started crushing her lungs three years ago requiring her to have constant oxygen and to rely on a VPAP machine to force air into her lungs while she sleeps.

Her husband cared for her fulltime until finances required him to go back to work recently, and so the care allocated by Disability SA is used while he is at away. Leaving him with the option of not sleeping overnight when there is no backup or risking his wife’s life.

Their situation is heartbreaking and illogical given that it will cost more tax payer funds to accommodate Naomi in a nursing home than give her the additional funding needed to stay at home.

A light in the dark is that the SA Health Minister Tony Picollo has said that Disability SA will be meeting with Naomi and her husband next week to discuss her particular needs with the aim of enabling her to stay at home.

Lets hope they can work out a better outcome for Naomi. To support their cause link to http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/jay-weatherill-premier-of-south-australia-keep-naomi-at-home

Empathy Vs Sympathy and The Other Superman

The Other SupermanTake look at what is actually happening….

Swinging from  a highwire and scaling 50 metre silk ropes with your bare hands while carrying the weight of a wheelchair is not a feat that most people would be able to contemplate. Let alone achieve. So it’s no wonder that Paul Nunnari, Paralympian and aerial artist aka The Other Superman actively discourages pity or sympathy. Although warmly appreciative of the good intentions of these “ity” athy” bearers, he suggests empathy as more appropriate and to focus on the ability over the disability.

This approach encourages seeing first the other person rather than their disability, what they are doing rather than how they are hindered and perhaps what is common rather different. When considering what I share with Nunnari I sadly admit it certainly isn’t steely commitment or achievement of my highest goals…..

When Paul was asked by Peter Greco on 5RPH’s Leisure Link what he had gained from the Australia’s Got Talent experience he said it was the opportunity to change the focus to a person’s ability over their disability and to get the message out there that no matter what happens to you in life you can get up and achieve your goals if you set your mind to it. 

Nunnari crash landed towards the end of his grand final performance – after various aerial activities included spinning from his neck. In typical form he viewed the accident as an opportunity to show not only his character in getting back up and continuing the show but to illustrate what people with disability do day in and day out. Simply getting up and getting on, take a moment to think about that.

His message is salient for all of us living with or without a disability and crosses more issues than is possible to address in a single blog. Just one thought; thinking about where we connect rather than where we don’t leads us to what we can learn from each other. Looking at Paul Nunnari  we can learn that it is possible to achieve what we might fear is unachievable and the great value in simply doing.

http://www.rphadelaide.org.au/links/LL1.mp3