Life after injury, a positive look
To many, the idea of living with a disability seems a near impossible task.
But Auckland’s wheelchair basketball team, the Wheelbreakers, have shown Howick College students that it’s achievable to live a fullyfunctional, happy life.
Players from the team Mark Sullivan, Daniel Foliaki and Mii Pepe visited the Year 10 class to demonstrate their sport and talk about life after injury.
The class kicked off with wheelchair basketball training, followed by a game using spare wheelchairs for the keen pupils to take turns on.
The three players then spoke to the class of their injuries and their lifestyle, led by Sullivan.
‘‘What we did today, I hope you all enjoyed yourself. That’s the fun stuff but understand the serious side of it. It’s not a choice for us, it’s a lifestyle,’’ Sullivan, who was critically injured after a car accident in 1992, told the class.
He went on to talk about his difficult experience after the accident and having to learn a new way of living.
But Sullivan stresses that his and his colleagues’ disabilities haven’t stopped them from getting on with life.
‘‘We live independent lives, you find a way. It does take long, but it doesn’t stop you from doing things. We don’t focus on the hard things.’’
He says the team often visits schools to spread disability awareness and incite hope within the students.
‘‘We don’t want it to be just fun, that’s why we do the talk at the end. To share the life stories, the challenges we’ve had in our life. Kids, their thoughts are purer, they don’t have that filter system. Adults want to ask us questions but sometimes don’t because they don’t want to offend.’’
Year 10 student Gerjot Bhullal says hearing about the players’ experiences was a highlight.
‘‘Before I walked in I would have thought a spinal injury would be the end of my life, that I would be living a life dependent on other people.
‘‘I would be dependent on everyone else. But after being told there’s a life after injury, you can still drive a car, you can still do everything you usually do, it’s just harder.
‘‘It’s a little bit of an inspiration to know that I can still do everything if I ever have a spinal injury,’’ he says.
Mark Sullivan, Daniel Foliaki and Mii Pepe visited Howick College to spread disability awareness.