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Mates helping Mates

Ben Betts, left, and best mate  Andrew Long will team up in the Gladstone Inclusive Games.
Ben Betts, left, and best mate Andrew Long will team up in the Gladstone Inclusive Games.

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

BEST mates Ben Betts and Andrew Long live in the same world, but they see it from a different angle. For a short time tomorrow all that will change.

Born with a brittle bone disease, Andrew has lived his entire life in a wheelchair and now best mate Ben will see what it's like.

Andrew and Ben will line up together in a game of wheelchair basketball for Tannum Sands State High School in the Gladstone Inclusive Games tomorrow, bringing together able bodied and disabled locals on a level playing field.

Andrew said he was looking forward to seeing his mate Ben in the chair and welcomed the concept of the games. 'I think it will be good for them to see what it's like to be in a wheelchair,' he said.

Andrew said being in a wheelchair and going to high school was a little challenging, but generally he managed.

'I take a little longer to do things than other people that's all,' he said.

While other 13-year-olds would be reluctant to put themselves in the shoes of a disabled person, Ben said it didn't take much for his mate to convince him.

'Andy asked if I wanted to be on his team so I said yes, that's it,' Ben said.

Tannum Sands State High School special needs teacher Jackie Dunne said the school's response to the games had been very positive.

'We have six teams taking part, five student teams and one from the teachers,' she said.

Ms Dunne said the initiative had been well accepted because the school had a number of students with disabilities.

'We try to promote any sports for those with physical impairments,' Ms Dunne said.

If you have ever wondered what it is like to live life with a disability, this weekend is your chance to find out.

The Gladstone Inclusive Games will help raise awareness of people with disabilities by bringing together able bodied and disabled residents for a day of sport and recreation.

The major drawcard of the day will be a wheelchair basketball tournament featuring local businesses, community groups and schools.

Organiser Andrea Hughes said the event was well received by locals wanting to take part.

Held at the Gladstone PCYC, the Gladstone Inclusive Games will start at noon with a number of different sports for both physically impaired and able bodied people.

'With 19 per cent of the population being disabled it is important for everyone to get together and help raise awareness,' Ms Hughes said.

Ms Hughes said the day would also include a live band, food stalls and a bar.

She said there would also be other activities and displays including live barramundi and sailing.

For more information phone Andrea Hughes on 4976 6300.



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