Bailley first joined ParaFed Otago in 2017 when she moved back to Dunedin to study occupational therapy. She was initially only involved in wheelchair basketball. Kelsey Evans then told her about the annual Adam Hall Snow Sports Programme ski trips we do for a few different weekends during the year. She was hesitant at the start but decided to just give it a go and if she didn't enjoy it, she wouldn't go again. She said, "It was awesome because everything is organised from transport to and from Wanaka, accessible accommodation, rentals for sit-skis and outriggers, lessons from adaptive instructors and volunteers to help us out!" After the first weekend, she ended up signing up for the next trips a few weeks later. "I was hooked!"
Bailley says, "The best thing about ParaFed Otago is the opportunity they gave me to try new sports and they removed all the barriers that typically stop you from trying something new. ParaFed Otago were also so supportive of their members and volunteers, and I have become really good friends with some of the people I have met through ParaFed. Another awesome part of the ParaFed Otago community is that each member has different challenges and strengths and you really get to learn new ways of thinking and how you can incorporate that into your own life."
ParaFed Otago gave Bailley the first oppourtunity to experience sit-skiing which she has become super passionate about. She went skiing on almost every trip in 2018 and 2019 with ParaFed including the annual Adaptive Snow Sports Festival, where she saw more advanced skiers like Adam Hall. She then got invited to join the development camps with Snow Sports NZ to support her progression as a sit-skier and learnt about the opportunities involved in the Northern Hemisphere with being an adaptive skier.
With the support from Jane Stevens (the adaptive and para sports manager) Bailley was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of joining the Rocky Mountain Adaptive (RMA) Professional Development training programme in Banff, Canada, for the first three months of 2020 alongside Kirstie Fairhurst who she met through ParaFed. Bailley is currently involved with the Wanaka Alpine Development Programme. Her first lesson was with the adaptive programme at Cardrona and since the beginning her instructor was Sally Hawes who Bailley says "is an awesome instructor and a big part of why I'm still skiing, she also instructed at RMA in Banff earlier this year."
Since joining ParaFed Otago, Bailley has had the confidence to try new sports and had the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world, where she has had epic experiences ad memories to keep forever. "I have made lifelong friends from NZ and all over the world. I would definitely recommend ParaFed Otago to anyone with a physical disability who wants to be involved with a community of like-minded people to try new sports from wheelchair basketball to skiing."
Dylan Lloyd first started at ParaFed Otago back in 2011 when he was 7 years old. Kelsey Evans, previous Sports Development Officer first met him in 2016 and knew he would go far in everything he set his mind to and focused on. Here are a few words from Kelsey highlighting some of Dylan’s story.
‘Dylan is focused, committed and has an incredibly supportive family. One of my highlights from my time at ParaFed Otago was at the 2018 Halberg Junior Games where Dylan came first in his classification. Dylan had been playing boccia for a while and this was a great chance for him to demonstrate what skills he had developed through training.’ Kelsey recalls, “I remember sitting there nervously, barely able to watch as I knew how much he wanted to win. With one ball to throw Dylan had won and called the game. I was overwhelmed with pride as I could tell how happy he was, yes I may have shed a wee tear.” When we asked Dylan what his favourite moment is from being a part of ParaFed Otago, he said this exact same thing!
‘2019, was a big year for Dylan as with the support of Raylene Bates he started wheelchair racing. Dylan started off using Adam Hall’s old chair, which was too big for him but with the help of Raylene and Invacare he was into his own chair and competing. He has only just started on his journey in wheelchair racing and we are all looking for to watching him in the future.’ Dylan recently competed at Challenge Wanaka in the Adaptive event and thoroughly enjoyed his experience.
‘Dylan also started playing Wheelchair Rugby, he attended the robin round competition against other teams around the country. Even though he was one of the youngest player he held his own taking on some of the Wheel Black players. He made a big impression within the wheelchair rugby community with his quick wit and fearless attitude. I have been every impressed with his willingness to learn and dedication to put in the hard work when required. It is very exciting to see the next generation of WCR players coming through and I am glad Dylan is part of them.’
When asked, Dylan says the best thing about being a part of ParaFed Otago is the awesome experiences and opportunities. It has given him lots of confidence and has made him more active and encouraged him to get involved in more sports. As for the future, Dylan sees himself playing wheelchair rugby and participating in wheelchair racing. He would recommend joining ParaFed because you get to meet new people, have awesome experiences and opportunities.
'Dylan is outstanding advocate for Para sports. He is always willing to give anything a go but also is willing to support others in their development. His competitive nature and enthusiasm to learn is admired by others. Dylan, I am so proud of all you have achieved and I am glad to have been part of your journey!' - Kelsey Evans
Mia first joined ParaFed Otago when she moved to Dunedin to attend the University of Otago in 2014. She has friends who were involved in ParaFed and she knew some of them through skiing but had always wanted to try wheelchair basketball. "That and basically any other sport I got the chance to and ParaFed Otago really helped make that happen. Mia is now heavily involved with wheelchair rugby, having been playing for nearly 4 years and has been a great member of the team and shares her experiences and passion with any new players who join.
ParaFed Otago has changed Mia's life by helping her to be more confident and has allowed her to meet some amazing people and try new things. "I don't know what I would do without Wheelchair Rugby at this point".
In a testament to Mia's passion and love for wheelchair rugby, she was the recipient of ParaFed Otago's 'Most Promising Wheelchair Rugby Player' at 2018's prize giving. a prime example of just how far she has come and improved is just the other day at training, she took down one of our big lads. Hit him at just the right speed and force that he tipped right over backwards! Her resilience and 'take no prisoners' attitude on the court is unmatched. Even when I get in the chair, I do not face her willingly.
As for the question of where she sees herself in 10 years, in a classic Mia form, she says, "Ask me in 10 years..." But then adds "...but I'll definitely still be playing rugby and skiing if I have anything to do with it. And who knows, maybe there'll be some sledge hockey in the mix too..."
Mia can't narrow down her favourite moment or memory but would have to say, "All of the ski weekends I have been on and the wheelchair rugby tournaments over the past few years have been amazing. The games of spastic hand Jenga that we played at last years South Island Junior Games made for a great night!"
"I sure would (recommend ParaFed Otago), for all the reasons above. It is a great way to make new friends and play some awesome sports. It provides a sense of community that is hard to replace. Also... RUGBY!!"