Published on: 19 September 2014

Some Senior School students and staff, including Headmaster Garth Wynne, spent a day in a wheelchair as part of Wheelchair Accessibility and Awareness Week at Christ Church this week. The aim was for boys to experience firsthand what it was like to live a day in the life of a person with a physical disability while raising much-needed funds for Wheelchair Sports WA (WSWA).

Romsey tutor Neil Walker said 35 boys from Romsey House volunteered to spend a day in a wheelchair. Thirteen boys, from Years 7 to 11, were chosen to gain an understanding of some of the challenges faced by their House mates Andrew Dewberry (Year 10) and Peter Moyes Centre student William Andrews (Year 9).

The boys were asked to gain donations and sponsorship via the Everyday Hero program, which was set up by the WSWA for its Corporate Wheelchair Challenge challenging some of Perth’s business leaders to do the same. The initiative and week culminates in the National Wheelchair Basketball League grand final in Perth this Sunday.

“I think it was an eye-opening experience for the boys,” Mr Walker said. “They thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and said it was something they would do again, but they certainly found it difficult.”

On Thursday, Mr Wynne spent the day in a wheelchair, which included addressing the community at the Senior School Assembly. He shared his personal reason for accepting the challenge of spending the day in the chair – his brother is in a wheelchair after a car accident left him a quadriplegic 25 years ago.

Mr Wynne said his brother quickly learnt after the accident that many people often saw the chair first and the person second. He stressed to the boys the importance of seeing a person with a disability, not a disabled person. “If you can do this, you will be a better person for it,” he said.

At lunchtime, a wheelchair basketball match between staff and students gave Andrew Dewberry a chance to show the School why he is currently the youngest player in the National Wheelchair Basketball League and the importance of WSWA in providing sporting and social programs for children and adults with physical disabilities.

Other fundraising efforts during the week included a sausage sizzle and at the time of publication, the School had more than $3,600 raised for WSWA.

Andrew’s mother and staff member Tina Dewberry, who was the driving force behind the week, thanked Neil Walker, Luke Farmer, Marie Zwart, Colin Harrison and Lynne Moore for their support and assistance with the week’s events.