Invictus Games: Children with severe disabilities use electronic buzzers to cheer competitors – Invictus Games
Unable to speak, a group of children with severe disabilities have been using electronic gadgets to cheer on Australia at the Invictus Games in Sydney.
The pupils, from St George School at Kogarah, in the city’s south, smiled as they used special buzzers programmed with the words “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” and “Oi, Oi Oi” at the wheelchair basketball.
Their teacher, Melanie King, has worked with them for months to help them understand the Games.
“It’s a really good way for them to see that you can overcome challenges and difficulties if you work hard and you always do your best,” she said.
“They get to see that success and fighting spirit that basically our guys display every day here at school.”
Australia didn’t prevail in their first game against the UK, but the children clearly think they’re still winners. And the feeling is mutual.
Competitor David Connolly had a leg amputated when a knee replacement went horribly wrong.
Two thousand parachute jumps had taken a toll on his body and the Invictus Games helped him recover physically and emotionally.
He was happy to meet the students, and said that was what the Games were all about.
“We’ve got a little bit of a disability, but nothing like these kids. I take my hat off to them,” he said.
Children are seen and heard
Jo-Anne Kelly with her daughter, Ashleigh, 12, who particularly loved the music at the wheelchair basketball. (ABC News)
Sara Threlfo teared up as she spoke about the pride she had for her son Nicholas, 12, and his friends.
“There was a day many, many years ago when people were embarrassed to take their special needs children out,” she said.
“I think that’s changing and it’s things like the Invictus Games that help promote that.”
Competitor Sonya Newman said her nephew used a wheelchair and faced similar challenges to the St George School children.
“To know that there is a possibility that we can make some changes and give some people hope, it’s a privilege,” she said.
“You want to make a difference and we’ve got the opportunity to, so that is fantastic.”
Teammate Bear Bretherton said it meant the world to know he had the support of the children.
“Hopefully we can get them to realise that they’re not defined by their disabilities; it’s all about ability,” he said.