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Athletes score for disability and donors

27 August 2015
Friendly match promotes awareness and social inclusion

Wheelchair basketball athletes from the NSW Institute of Sport and Wheelchair Sports NSW showed their support for the Pave the Way campaign this week.    

In what has become an annual event, students from the Faculty of Health Sciences competed against the professionals in a friendly match at our Cumberland campus. The event aims to raise awareness of athletes with permanent physical impairments, and teach the basic skills involved in wheelchair basketball.   

This year the event also aimed to raise awareness of the Pave the Way campaign on 3 September - which is supporting a bursary fund for students with disabilities - and Disability Awareness Week from 7 to 11 September.

Rhys Baxter from the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) said he loved attending the University to teach students about wheelchair basketball.

“We’re grateful that the student community here at Cumberland campus were so keen to show their support and get involved.”

Sydney Uni Wheel Kings player and Wheelchair Sports NSW representative Rick Engles explained wheelchair basketball – which is open to male and female athletes with permanent physical impairment to their lower limbs – is one of the major disabled sports practised today.

“The game retains most key rules and scoring of basketball, including the 10-foot basketball hoop and standard basketball court,” he said.

“Players are assigned a point value from 1 to 4.5 – according to their level of physical function – and teams may not exceed 14 points for the five players on court.”

NSWIS athlete and national wheelchair basketball team member Hannah Dodd said the event was also a chance for students to get a better understanding of what being in a wheelchair was like.

“Opportunities like this – where students can get in the wheelchairs, and experience sports like wheelchair basketball firsthand – help our future physios and occupational therapists to be better at their jobs. They’re more empathetic to the needs of people and athletes with disabilities,” she said.

Cumberland Student Guild Vice President and fourth year physiotherapy student representative Hui San said the players felt really connected with the aims of the Pave the Way campaign.

“It aims to support students with physical barriers and help fund research that will improve the health and wellbeing of people of all needs and abilities,” she said.

Pave the Way is a 24-hour fundraising and awareness campaign – the University of Sydney’s second annual giving day and the only challenge of its kind at any Australian university.

One of the areas being supported by Pave the Way is the bursary fund for students with disabilities who experience short-term financial hardship.

Pave the Way will take place on Thursday 3 September. To get involved, visit sydney.edu.au/pavetheway.

From Monday 7 to Friday 11 September, the University will hold its annual Disability Awareness Week, which aims to promote awareness of disability, celebrate diversity and inclusion, and shift mindsets and attitudes. View the full program