Despite his mobility restrictions caused by cerebral palsy, North Ryde long term resident Brett Dyer isn’t the type who gets intimidated by day to day challenges.
“I live by myself and when I’m at home I use a walking stick,” said Mr Dyer. “Outside, I use a scooter to get around and I’m pretty good with it. I use it even if I have to go far, like Macquarie Park.”
Therefore, when he was told he couldn’t play lawn bowls at his local bowling club, he teamed up with his local Linker Ms Hiroko Kawashima from Settlement Services International (SSI) and his Occupational Therapist (OT) from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Michelle Cohen, to find a solution.
SSI delivers the Ability Links NSW program (ALNSW) that supports people with disability, their families and carers. SSI Linkers work closely with people who need support to achieve a more meaningful and happier life. Linkers also work with the local community to support them to become more welcoming and inclusive.
Ms Kawashima organised a meeting with the North Ryde RSL Men’s Bowling Club president and found out that Mr Dyer would need a tailored wheelchair, as well as a ramp to access the green.
Ms Cohen said that lawn bowls is a sport where people with a physical disability can participate equally with the rest of competitors.
“There are no rule changes and competitors can compete on both normal green and synthetic surfaces,” said Ms Cohen.
Ms Kawashima and Ms Cohen started working tirelessly to make Mr Dyer’s dream of joining the bowling club a reality.
“The wheelchair is special because it has been modified to comply with regulations so that it doesn’t damage the bowling green which was a main concern of the club and its members,” said Ms Cohen.
When the good news was delivered to Mr Dyer, he couldn’t believe that he was finally going to be able to play.
“I have been waiting to play for two years, since I finished my lessons. I can’t wait to go down there and play with them.”
“I love bowling because it gets me out of the house and I get to mix with people and socialise,” he said.
To make sure he’s got enough support, SSI Linker Ms Kawashima has also organised a carer through Catholic Community Services who will be with Mr Dyer at the club for one hour every Wednesday.
“Our Linkers don’t only work towards improving the lives of their participants, but also towards outcomes that will have a positive impact for the whole community,” said SSI Executive Manager Families & Inclusion Stephen O’Neill.
“In this case the North Ryde RSL Men’s Bowling Club is now accessible for other people with reduced mobility, which is a great outcome for all.”
Chris Jones, President at North Ryde RSL, said the wheelchair will be a great asset for the Men’s Bowling Club members.
“As a community Club we try to assist our members whenever we can, plus Brett and his family have been members of the Club forever,” Mr Jones said.
“The wheelchair will be made available to all who require it, and with an ageing population and membership we can expect that the chair will be used quite a lot.”
Mr Dyer will have his first lawn bowls game with other members at North Ryde RSL on Wednesday 2 November at 1pm.
SSI Communications Assistant: Anna Vilalta 0488 680 240