From the age of 10, Chris Barty has played almost every sport there is. “I am 28 years old and have always been interested in sport” says Chris. His parents always encouraged him to play and did not see his Cerebral Palsy as a barrier.
Chris is a Paralympian and competes with the Australian Paralympic Football Team, the Pararoos. Sport has played a very important role in Chris’ life, “It’s been massive. It has helped in a number of aspects. For a person with a disability it improves your physical ability and it becomes more for your body about what you can do, not what it can’t” says Chris. From a social aspect Chris says, “I’ve met some of my best friends playing sports. It sounds cliché but it’s a good way to keep in touch with friends”.
In 2014, the Paralympic Football program stopped receiving funding. But Chris still wanted a competitive outlet so he contacted the Paralympic Committee who put him in touch with Athletics WA.
With Athletics, Chris had the option of participating in a standing or sitting position event. Javelin was a seated event and for Chris competing sitting down was the way to go. To compete he needed a ‘throwing chair’ and it had certain specifications it needed to meet for competition.
He began looking for a place that could help design a throwing chair to meet the requirements for competition. “So this was fairly new to everyone involved. We had to ask what is it. And what do we need to get this built?” said Chris.
Chris turned to TADWA who he had worked with previously, “I had worked with Mary Ryan on another project and I knew TADWA was capable of doing the weird and wonderful. Also being a resident of Bassendean it was nice to keep it local” Chris said.
Chris worked with TADWA technicians to design the throwing chair and has been able to take the chair with him to trial at competitions and training. “I took it to the national championships in Sydney and had some feedback on what improvements could be made and TADWA were really good about making the changes. It has been a really good collaborative learning experience”.
The chair has been designed to be durable and light allowing Chris to move the chair around allowing him to be independent. Chris says, “It is important for me to have the frame because without it I would not be able to compete. It has been really important to be able to build with certain specifications. To work with an organisation like TADWA and to be able to trial the chair has been really really great. I would recommend TADWA to others”.
Chris is now working towards making the team for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. His advice for others wanting to participate in sports is, “more opportunities are available for people with disabilities to try sports. It has come a long way to be more inclusive and it is less scary than it used to be.
“If you see something you want to do just go do it”.