Ausnew Home Care | Dad's love for his little girl brings action sports

Dad's love for his little girl brings action sports to rural kids with disabilities

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Townsville girl Paisley Beckett used to spend the summer school holidays watching from the water's edge as her friends relished action-packed fun in the ocean.

The eight-year-old was born with a spinal condition that prevented her from participating in some of her favourite activities.

That was until her dad, Chris Beckett, could bear it no longer.

He took matters into his own hands by creating the All Abilities Water Sports club in 2018 to give kids like his daughter the joy and exhilaration of a day out on the water.

This year, Mr Beckett and his family set out on what will become an annual trip around outback Queensland to bring water sport experiences to locals with disabilities.

A father wears a green shirt and poses for a photo with his son and daughter atop a cliff on a bushwalk. Ausnew Home Care, NDIS registered provider, My Aged Care
Chris Beckett hopes to make an annual trip to bring watersports to outback communities.(Supplied: Chris Beckett)

"It's a myth that you can't get out on the water and have a good time if you're not able-bodied."

Creating opportunities

The family carted their boat, water skis, knee boards, tubes and inflatables to the communities of Hughenden, Richmond, Cloncurry, and Mount Isa, where temperatures average over 40 degrees Celsius in summer.

Nestled among the red dirt, hundreds of kilometres from the east coast, outback towns have limited access to water sports.

A man with one leg uses a seated water ski
The Becketts say it's rewarding bringing people together to talk about disability.(Supplied: Chris Beckett)

"Something like water skiing is often hard for families to participate in if they don't have the gear," Mr Beckett said.

"By bringing our equipment out to rural communities, we're closing that gap for people with disabilities who are often left out."

Mount Isa girl Danielle Pittis, who has mild cerebral palsy, accomplished one of her life goals to water ski.

"I managed to get up both on the bank and in the water. It was amazing, I had a ball. It was so much fun," she said.

A woman sits on an assisted water ski, laughing out on the water
Danielle Pittis, who has a learning disability, accomplished one of her life goals to water ski.(Supplied: Chris Beckett)

For clients of local disability support organisation Cootharinga, the chance to get out on the water is rare.

"Events like this give our customers a chance to show their abilities, not their disabilities," support worker Kym Elms said.

"It was a great chance for them to participate in activities they otherwise would not get to experience."

Starting conversations

Mr Beckett said creating opportunities for people to come together and talk about disability was rewarding.

"When we travel around to these communities, one of the great outcomes is seeing everyone from different backgrounds and abilities coming together and talking about this issue and sharing their experiences," he said.

But for him, the best part of the day is seeing the reactions on the kids' faces.

"The smiles are the best thing," Mr Beckett said.

"That's why I love doing this, seeing the people being included on the water, having a great time, hearing everyone laughing and giggling in the background."

three young boys laugh as they sit on an inflatable out on a lake
The All Abilities Water Sports club aims to bring fun experiences to people of all abilities.(Supplied: Chris Beckett)

Paisley's experiences out on the water stick with her well after she's dried off.

She said her dad was opening doors and changing attitudes among kids like her.

"It means a lot to me. And I know it means a lot to the other kids we meet.

"Some people think they'll never be able to do something, but I think it's so cool that Dad is showing people they can," she said.


Source: ABC

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