Sometimes in life, your schedule doesn’t go to plan and this happened this week. I’m lucky enough to have a twin sister who is kicking goals at the moment (quite literally), so she is the guest I interviewed this month.
Rebecca is my twin sister who is 2 minutes younger than me, but you wouldn’t know that if you met us. We have very different interests (you’ll never see her at the track), but life would be boring if we were the same.
She is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology and plans on doing her masters with the aim of becoming a clinical psychologist. When she’s not studying, she’s practising powerchair football and advocating for people with disabilities through the Youth Disability Advocacy Network (YDAN).
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m 21 years old and currently studying psychology at Curtin Uni. I am very heavily involved in powerchair sports here in WA, having participated in many state teams and national tournaments, as well as receiving a few awards. Excitingly I was also selected as the Vice Captain of the U21 Australian Powerchair Football team and will be competing in my first international tournament in October. I’m also involved in disability advocacy and am the Deputy Chair and Managing Director of the Youth Disability Advocacy Network.
What’s it like having a twin sister?
Well I guess it a bit hard to say what it’s like to have a twin sister because I’ve never not had a twin sister. Having a twin sister is all that I’ve known!
What sparked your interest in becoming a psychologist? What’s your dream job?
I’ve always been interested in helping others, so I guess that’s where psychology was the next logical step. My dream job is to work in paediatrics or specifically with kids with disabilities!
How did you get involved in electric wheelchair sport?
I first heard about wheelchair sports after going to a social group for young adults run by Muscular Dystrophy WA. There were a few players there who told me about powerchair sports and said I should give it a go. At first I was hesitant as I didn’t think I was the sporty type. But I thought I might as well give it a go – and as soon as I tried it I was hooked!
How did you feel when you made the Under 21s Australian Powerchair Football team?
At first I was surprised as I didn’t even know there was an U21 team! I hadn’t tried out or anything (selection was based on performance at Club Championships in January) so that definitely made it a surprise. I was also super excited but also nervous – it’s a pretty big thing to be selected for an Australian team!
Why would you encourage people to give electric wheelchair sports a go and who can join?
Anyone who uses a power wheelchair for mobility, or is unable to play manual wheelchair sports, is welcome to come try power wheelchair sports. I’d definitely encourage anyone to give it a go as it’s an awesome way to be competitive, make friends, learn to work as a team, and has mental and physical benefits too!
What is the Youth Disability Advocacy Network and how did you get involved?
The Youth Disability Advocacy Network (YDAN) is an organisation run for and by young people with disabilities. We advocate on issues that affect youth with disabilities, for example on education, employment and access. We also deliver workshops and audits to groups, businesses and organisations to educate on disability topics and help improve accessibility and understanding of disability.
I first became involved in YDAN in 2015 when I was introduced to them at a conference for disability advocates. I become a committee member at the end of 2015 and have slowly become more and more involved and higher up in the organisation, to where I am now as Deputy Chair and Managing Director.
What are your dreams/goals in the future, both, academically, sport and advocacy wise?
Academically I hope to graduate with my Bachelor of Psychology at the end of 2021 and then be accepted into a Masters of Clinical Psychology.
In terms of sport, my long term goal is to make the senior Australian Powerchair Football team, known as the Poweroos and to eventually play in a powerchair football World Cup! In the short term, I hope to succeed at the upcoming APO Cup with the U21, and also help the WA Powerchair Football teams be more successful at national tournaments.
When you’re not studying or training, what do you like to do in your free time?
Most of my free time is spent training powerchair football! Whenever I’m free I try to go to what ever court I can get in to in order to get some more training in. If I’m not training, I’m most likely watching Powerchair Football videos!
If you could teach the world one lesson about what it’s like to have a disability what would it be?
To just have one lesson on disability would be impossible! Disability is such a varied thing that one lesson wouldn’t be able to cover everything. I’d need to teach a whole unit to fully educate someone on disability and all there is to learn!
Cover photo taken by Michelle Coles and the Queensland Powerchair Football Association