Guest story from Robert Cronin, a workplace learning student from Great Southern Grammar, who was placed with GSCORE in early 2018.
In November 2008, Andrew Liddawi a keen mountain bike (MTB) rider went for a ride with his mates on one of his favourite trails in Daisy Hill in Brisbane. On one part of the track he hit a particularly difficult corner which caused him to go flying off his bike. This resulted in him being completely paralysed from the waist down and from that moment on everything would be different. Rebound WA is an organisation that helps people with disabilities get back on track. Rebound WA got in contact with Andrew and started getting him involved with adaptive MTB riding to make him reconnect with the sport. In 2013 Andrew became the first ever paraplegic to compete in the Cape to Cape MTB riding event.
Andrew created his own organisation called “Break the Boundary” which has sparked many cycling groups in Queensland and Victoria to get involved in adaptive MTB riding. Andrew’s main goal is to encourage more and more people with physical disabilities to give adaptive MTB riding a go. Andrew says the main thing that keeps him motivated is “looking forward to helping other people, that just gets me going and if there wasn’t opportunity for growth in the industry for adaptive MTB riding I would probably just give up.”
In March 2018, Andrew organised an adaptive MTB riding camp for people with physical disabilities in Albany. The camp was spread over 3 days and saw a group of people with physical disabilities have a go on different equipment, learn the basics, to tackle different terrain.
I had the opportunity to meet and interview Andrew after the camp. I asked him why he enjoyed it and Andrew felt that to start with it was about proving a point that he could still ride a bike and then he wanted to give others the opportunity to participate in Adaptive MTB. The main thing that attracts Andrew to the sport are the people and the places he has had the chance to visit. He has always been a very outdoors person and enjoys new trails, which is what attracted him to Albany. He has found the other people involved in Adaptive MTB are always friendly and provide support for each other as it can be isolated out in the bush.
Andrew recommends Adaptive MTBing to others for its physical benefits and it can help people with disabilities build skills and strength for everyday life. There are also mental health benefits in being outdoors and mental health can be a problem for people with physical disabilities. Being on the bike minimises the feeling of having a disability. It was great to meet Andrew and I look forward to more Adaptive MTB camps in Albany.