SUMMER is traditionally spent in the outdoors, in pools, streams and dams or tearing around a property on a bike but these activities can cause the end of life as you know it.
That was the message heard by 180 year 9 students at James Sheahan Catholic High School yesterday as they listened intently to the life and times of wheelchair-bound John Wade of Wheelchair Sports NSW Roadshow.
He told them having fun was important but to always test the depth of water before diving, never dive into white water, always slow down for blind bends even on private property while riding bikes and always wear protective clothing and helmets.
“I want them to realise the consequences of their actions,” he said.
He told the students how everything in his life changed after he suffered an embolism while scuba diving, which caused him to become paraplegic.
His kitchen, bathroom and car had to be altered, he has trouble getting around, there are issues with public transport and even the slightest incline can be difficult.
Mr Wade was invited by the school to talk to the year 9 group because they had recently been studying discrimination and working out how to prepare the school for a future student in a wheelchair.
Students Joe Miller and Harriet O’Malley recently completed an assignment centred on the issues a person in a wheelchair may have getting around the school.
The group had to find problems with accessibility and come up with ways to solve them in preparation for the student in 2015.
Joe said he was keen to get on board and help make the school more accessible so in the future students with any form of physical disability could be part of the Sheahan community.
“Basically we’ve been learning about the difficulties people with a disability may face and it is good to help, especially at our school, to make it more accessible because it allows more opportunities,” he said.
Joe said he was taken aback by Mr Wade’s war stories about friends who had broken their neck from diving into waves, crashing a motorbike or cutting across a blind bend in a car.
“It makes you think about how easy it is to become paralysed, it’s a simple as jumping into a pool,” he said.
Harriet said it was a timely activity because she was only months away from getting her learner driver’s licence.
“We’ll be on the road soon so it’s good to hear about the driver safety stuff to help make us aware of what can happen,” she said.