Western Suburbs Weekly - - News -

IT WAS a for­tu­itous day when per­sonal trainer Luke Hal­lam met Mia Bran­dis in 2010.

For the then eight-year-old from Floreat, who has autism and anx­i­ety, regular train­ing ses­sions with Luke at Revo Fit­ness in Shen­ton Park helped her build the con­fi­dence and so­cial skills to re­turn to pri­mary school.

In turn, Luke (25) dis­cov­ered a ca­reer-defin­ing pas­sion for designing ex­er­cise pro­grams for chil­dren on the autism spec­trum, which cul­mi­nated in his found­ing the Pad­dle4Autism char­ity last year.

Mia’s mother Heidi Bran­dis nom­i­nated Luke as an Emerg­ing Leader in the Dis­abil­ity Sup­port Awards to be an­nounced on March 28.

“In ad­di­tion to the ob­vi­ous phys­i­cal benefits, train­ing with Luke has given Mia end­less coach­ing in oneto-one so­cial in­ter­ac­tion skills,” the North­ern Sub­urbs Autism Mums Group co-or­di­na­tor said.

“His gen­tle and hu­mor­ous ap­proach has had a fan­tas­tic ef­fect on Mia for which we are very grate­ful.

“Luke is cur­rently do­ing in­di­vid­ual train­ing with seven chil­dren on the autism spec­trum in ad­di­tion to his adult clients.

“I hope this num­ber con­tin­ues to grow over com­ing years as he is a gift to the autism com­mu­nity and our fam­i­lies,” she said.

Luke said he and his Pad­dle4Autism team were in train­ing for their sec­ond an­nual Molokai to Oahu Pad­dle Board Race in Hawaii in July.

“It’s a pretty gru­elling 52km race, so if we just beat our 2014 time of 6 hours 40, then I’ll be pretty happy,” the John XXII Col­lege grad­u­ate said.

“We’re also try­ing to raise $20,000 for Autism Aware­ness Australia – dou­ble what we raised for the Autism As­so­ci­a­tion of WA last year.

“The money will be go­ing specif­i­cally to set­ting up surf­ing days for kids with autism all over Australia,” he said.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d430455

Mia Bran­dis (13), who is autis­tic, trains with Luke Hal­lam.

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