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.

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