Focus on Adventure

From Patagonia to Sydney Harbour, people with disability are seeking adventure for thrills, healing and many other benefits in between... Not to mention the adventures to be had in your own back yard, parks and streets.

Jake Hytken went to Patagonia to 'where life takes more presence than construction'. Surrounded by stiff, snowy peaks and glacial-blue water, he enjoyed the 'feelings of smallness and getting lost in the grandness of the world' in Timothey Dhalleine's documentary, Patagonia, Wheechair and I. The cleverly designed, single-wheel wheelchair he uses to gain access despite his Congenital Muscular Dystrophy is reason enough to watch this great film.

Among the streets and parks of various Australian suburbs, there's plenty of adventures to be had. Video editor, Ryan Brewer made a film about his making then driving remote-controlled cars really fast around his local park, using the small amount of function he has in his hands. Watch 'This is Ryan' here. While an altogether different Ryan has found his happy place riding a drift trike! He says, 'It's something I can do. I haven't been able to do any sports for a long time.' Having a brainstem tumour meant Ryan couldn't ride a skateboard or a bike as a kid, but on the drift trike, his brother says, 'He doesn't slow down for anyone.'

Adventure with a purpose highlights The Waratah Centre's approach to using all sorts of activities, such as wakeboarding, cross-country skiing, swimming and exploring nature to develop life skills. Speaking of life skills, students from Kilparrin Teaching & Assessment School & Services submitted this documentary film about Riding for the Disabled, where participants not only learn to ride, they also make decisions, strengthen muscles, improve balance, enjoy the outdoors and interact with the horses.

We complete our adventurous streak with My Living War by Attitude Pictures, which tells the story of a Muz, a Corporal in the Australian Army who returned from Afghanistan with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For him, PTSD, 'started out just drinking a little bit and my behaviour was irrational. If things didn't go my way, I'd get really, really angry. I'd get drunk and just cry for hours.' This was not who he was.

Fortunately, he heard about, the organisation, 'Mates for Mates' set up by the Returned Services League in Queensland to support soldiers coming back from Afghanistan to get their confidence back. They did this by setting him and his mates the challenge of sea kayaking from Sydney to Brisbane! Muz says, 'If people have got a goal to work towards then the symptoms of PTSD won't show themselves as much.'

No matter the location, age or ability, adventure therapy is changing lives.