Festival of disability sport coming to Tauranga
It is now eight years since Amanda Lowry suffered a life changing injury in Mount Maunganui.
But this weekend she is helping to bring disability sport to the forefront of attention in Tauranga.
The Healthvision Festival of Disability Sport takes place this weekend, Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 at Trustpower Arena, Mount Maunganui.
Sports on show include wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, boccia and powerchair football. Blind and low vision sports will also be on show including blind lawn bowls at Mount Maunganui Bowling Club.
Sailability is also a part of the festival, being hosted at Tauranga Yacht Club.
It is the third year of running the event and everyone involved is chomping at the bit following last year’s cancellation due to Covid-19.
“All of that epic fundraising and organising the teams and then, screech, brakes for Covid so this year is a big giant ‘Yay’ for all of us,” says Amanda, who is the festival ambassador.
Her own personal story is one of bouncing back from a devastating incident and events like this weekend are extremely important toward normalising disabled sport.
“Eight years ago I dived off my surfboard and broke my neck just six days after the birth of our littlest baby,” says Amanda. “Eight years on though and we are all good. Sport is part of that, a really important part of that journey that has helped our family make a new normal.
“My kids get to look around and see that mum is not the only one in a chair. They are jumping in chairs at events and all the other children are sort of hanging out. They are really familiar with the world on wheels.”
Amanda will be playing wheelchair rugby at the event, her sport of choice since her injury. Teams from all over New Zealand are attending the festival, from as far as Christchurch, with 30-40 players expected to take part.
Bringing everyone together is another key benefit of the event.
“You have got all these different sports but everyone is quite siloed,” Amanda says. “We are all quite isolated. You have your sport teams and it is not often you all get to come together. This is sort of creating that community or we are hoping it is.”
The hope is that by bringing disabled sport to the forefront in top class venues it will have those watching in awe at the ability of the athletes on show, regardless of their ability.
“That’s the plan,” says Amanda. “If you increase the visibility of disability and people come in and they see what we do and they see how dynamic it is the whole idea is they see us as athletes and not disabled athletes.
“It is just about changing people’s perception of sport and what is possible.
“This is about bringing our sports into a top class competitive arena and making it a pinnacle event for disabled sports around the country for us all to aim for and celebrate what we do.”