Hey all, my name is Liam. I’m 24 years old and I have HSP. My mum, Patricia, who first introduced me to the Foundation, also has HSP. I live with my wife in the Sutherland Shire.
All the way through my youth and adulthood, I’ve been incredibly fortunate with the resources and inclusivity I’ve been able to enjoy in my local area, for the most part. I previously was walking independently through primary school and a portion of my high school, until I was required to have corrective surgery which, whilst assisting me with the longevity of my mobility as far as standing to transfer and walking short distances, I did shift to a permanent wheelchair user following this. Admittedly, there was some difficulties with my high school at first with this transition, but we thankfully were able to handle it relatively quickly and I was able to enjoy my final years of education mostly interruption free.
Socially, my HSP has really had a comparatively minor impact on my life. Of course, there’s certain activities, venues and outings that I haven’t been able to participate in or attend, but the vast majority of my social life has been unaffected and I’ve been able to be fully integrated in all circles of my life from primary school all the way to adult employment. I’ve always had a strong cohort of friends, including my wife who I met in high school and been incredibly fortunate in that respect.
As far as the other aspects of normal life such as employment, I’ve been quite lucky and been able to enjoy a number of different opportunities to work, and have currently been working from home as a transcriptionist, using my skills of typing I developed from years of messaging friends for hours on end on social media in high school! It was work experience all along, without realising it. My first job was working at Event Cinemas, an organisation I can’t speak highly enough of who were always incredibly helpful and continuously went the extra mile to ensure my accessibility and inclusion when it came to working and being a part of their team.
One of the biggest aspects of my life though, is sports. Throughout my life I’ve tried my hand at basically every wheelchair and disability sport under the sun. In primary school I did track and field and even tried a season of playing soccer, but definitely found all these standing sports too much for me physically. Thankfully, it all shifted when my mum heard about wheelchair basketball training starting up in Sutherland in around 2008. Since the very first training session 14 years ago, we’ve both been the stalwarts of the club being involved since the very first day. I had my opportunities in my early teenage years to represent the NSW Juniors in this sport, but wasn’t up to going very much further. I’ve always remained committed to the sport though helping to coach and mentor new players to improve and hopefully become stars at the sport in the future.
I briefly tried my hand at wheelchair track racing between 2012 and 2013, which was an amazing experience, a highlight of which was sharing a cabin with the iconic Kurt Fearnley at one of my first training camps for their Summer Down Under series in 2013. That period was such a learning experience for me to see how true professionals and incredible athletes worked and what was required of them. As a 15 year old in the midst of high school, I wasn’t committed to the sport and didn’t have the patience to stick with it. Another surgery in late 2013 which required me to take an over 6 month sabbatical from the sport was the perfect time for me to retire graciously on my own terms.
And then it all changed in the years following my departure from track racing; I found Wheelchair Rugby League. Growing up in the heart of the Shire in an era of footy tazos, it was obligatory that you followed the NRL, and the mighty Cronulla Sharks were always the best. When Wheelchair Rugby League was first introduced to me in 2015, I found my sport. I played a number of seasons of the NSW Cup and NSW Plate competition at Menai and became invested. I watched the Australian Wheelaroos team play in the Rugby League World Cup in 2017 though, I set myself a goal to represent my country on the very same team one day. I’ve been honoured to represent the New South Wales Blues on three occasions now, and have been working non-stop towards being able to represent Australia in the sport I love one day.
At the end of the day, my HSP has impacted me negatively in a few ways, of course, but at the same time it’s opened the door for me to have experiences and memories that I would never have dreamt of it, if it weren’t for my HSP. I’ve been blessed to have an experience my whole life where it’s not hard to look at it as glass half full.