Variety Queensland and sporting stars like Bundaberg's Nathan Donaldson are giving kids of all abilities the opportunity to partake in sporting events through a new sports camp.
It's all thanks to the first ever Variety Kids Sports Camp, designed for children with physical disabilities who face barriers when it comes to getting involved in organised sporting activities.
“Statistically, kids with disabilities are three times less likely to participate in sport than able bodied kids, yet the health benefits to those same kids are far more beneficial than abled bodied kids,” Variety's CEO Steve Wakerley said.
“This first camp is very much targeted towards wheelie kids with 20 attending, however we would love to scale up the program to include kids with all kinds of disabilities.”
The first Variety Kids Sports Camp will be held at the BLK Performance Centre on the Gold Coast from Friday 26 July to Sunday 28 July.
“The kids will partake in sporting activities such as archery, wheelchair racing, wheelchair basketball and tennis, swimming, and obstacle course, as well as participate in sessions on nutrition and wheelchair maintenance,” Steve said.
“They will also participate in mentoring sessions with successful adults with disabilities such as Louise Sauvage and Brendan Hall and Variety Heart Scholarship athletes such as Nathan Donaldson.”
Nathan Donaldson proud to be part of Variety Kids Sports Camp
Bundaberg junior wheelchair racer Nathan Donaldson has been asked to participate in the event as a mentor for camp-goers.
Nathan was born with cerebral palsy and has limited use of his legs.
His passion for fitness has led the 17-year-old T34 para athlete to forge a successful sporting career including representing Australia in the World Junior Para-athletic Championships in 2017.
Nathan said he was excited to take part in the Variety Kids Sports Camp and pass on his knowledge to those interested in getting involved in sport.
“I will be mentoring some of the younger kids and showing them the ropes of wheelchair racing,” he said.
“It's a great opportunity to show them what is available and to show them that they can do these things despite having a disability.”
Nathan is currently in Year 12 and is getting ready to complete his Certificate III in Fitness at the end of the year.
From there, Nathan said he wanted to pursue a career in personal training and exercise science.
“I have always been interested in fitness,” he said.
“Working in the fitness industry, a lot of people have told me it is inspiring that I am trying to do this course.
“I hope to be the motivation for people to get into the gym and hopefully inspire people to keep fit and healthy.”
Nathan said while he had faced some hurdles during his sporting career, it was about keeping a positive mindset and focusing on the pathway ahead.
“The biggest thing to remember is that your disability shouldn’t hold you back,” he said.
“At the end of the day it is about what you can do and what you want to achieve more than what you can't.
“You can still have ability even with a disability.”
At the Variety Sports Camp, Nathan will work alongside Paralympian Louise Sauvage who won nine gold and four silver medals at four Paralympic Games and eleven gold and two silver medals at three IPC Athletics World Championships.
Born with a severe spinal disability called myelodysplasia, which inhibits the function of the lower half of the body, Louise Sauvage defied the odds to become one of Australia's most famous sportspeople.
The Variety Kids Sports Camp will be held on the Gold Coast from Friday 26 July to Sunday 28 July.