Armidale and Tamworth Communities rally to raise funds for 10 new community wheelchairs

Ten new sports wheelchairs were presented to the Armidale and Tamworth communities today by students from the MET Armidale campus (a member of the OneSchool Global network) at the Blue Shield sports day.

The MET Armidale school community, alongside Wheelchair Sports NSW and Pathfinders Ability Links, rallied together to raise funding for 10 new sport wheelchairs after local student, Arne Ovenden, tragically became a paraplegic after an accident in 2015.

Thanks to the new chairs, Arne will now be able to participate in school sports, like wheelchair basketball, alongside his classmates.

MET Armidale, Wheelchair Sports NSW and Pathfinders Ability Links collaborated to raise $20,000, which covered the purchase of 10 sports wheelchairs.

The wheelchairs will be held at the University of New England sports centre (Sport UNE). They will be for the preferential use by MET Armidale students, but also provided for other disability groups in the area.

OneSchool Global’s NSW Regional Principal, Mr Patrick McGing, said that he was very proud of the students and teachers at MET Armidale.

“Arne suffered a tragic injury and when things like that happen to someone so young, you wonder what on Earth you could ever do to help them to feel better,” said McGing.

“Then you see something like this: a whole school, our community and the wider community, all rallying behind Arne to get him and nine others a wheelchair so they can play together, and there’s your answer.

“I guess the school will now be adding wheelchair basketball to their sports repertoire, and I look forward to seeing that in action.”

Arne’s father Phil Ovenden described the impact the new wheelchairs would have on his son as life-changing.

“For Arne to be able to participate alongside his friends in school sports means the world to us,” said Mr Ovenden.

“And to see the community get behind my son and support him after his accident, is something as a family we will be continually grateful for.”

Joe Shoebridge from Wheelchair Sports NSW, explained how sport is a powerful rehabilitation tool for those who have suffered catastrophic injury.

“For many individuals, especially kids, participation in wheelchair sport is an important pathway to social connection and the community following their catastrophic injury,” said Shoebridge.

“Just like every sport, it helps kids form friendships and increases confidence, social skills and education, along with overall motivation, determination and courage.” Mr Shoebridge said.

Brett Pischke from Pathfinders Ability Links said that they were very happy to help with such a good cause.

“Ability Links NSW Coordinators, work closely with people with disability, their families and carers to support them to fulfil their goals, hopes and dreams,” said Pischke.

“When we heard about Arne’s goal to take part in sport, we jumped at the chance to help him to improve his life.”

As featured on channel 7 and 9 news.

Friday 6 July

TV:

  • Prime7 – Region set for wheelchair sport boost. Link here.
  • NBN News – Ten sports wheelchairs presented to community. Link here.

Newspaper:

  • Moree Champion – Wheelchair team sports in New England thanks to combined funding. Link here.
  • Goondiwindi Argus – Wheelchair team sports in New England thanks to combined funding. Link  here.
  • Glen Innes Examiner – Wheelchair team sports in New England thanks to combined funding efforts. Link here.