Sports Day

Comradery, fun, excitement, now these aren’t typical words I’d associate with living in care. Community can even be a stretch at times, in fact living in care can be very isolating all-round. Like you see your care staff, maybe you might even bump into a fellow resident and say a few words, but generally the only thing that brings people together is disability. For one day of the year I wanted to try and change this. Nope there’s nothing quite like a bit of friendly competition to bring people together, and to bring some life back into a typically heavy setting.

So, I had this brainwave to hold an annual sports carnival for residents, staff and families alike. At my residence I just felt everybody slipping apart and this was my way of doing something about it. I mean in the past I’d organised a high school party, an 80s disco, and these were successful so meh I thought why not try something a little bit different. Something interactive that forced people to come together. Haha, sneaky I know.

After deciding that a sports carnival was definitely the way to go, I asked management and got approval, then I wrote up and printed it out to leave around the houses. The program detailed a little bit about the day I had planned and a run-down of the all-important events. I was trying to get people talking and create a bit of hype. It worked.

I put a lot of thought into this day, not to mention time, money and effort. Actually, I was surprised that management didn’t try to contribute or get more involved, but yeah I suppose I didn’t mind as this game me total control. Also, it allowed me to execute some quirky little additions beyond what people might have been expecting, for instance I went to a proper trophy shop and bought engraved championship cups to play for. I even organised proper referee outfits with whistles for myself and Shaz, one of the head nurses. We even had a scoreboard.

Okay, now how it was structured, well as the care home has four houses it was pretty straightforward that these would make up four separate teams. Blue, red, yellow and green. And each team was made up from the residents and primary care staff from a set house. I should’ve been in the green team only I was the umpire… and a pretty biased one at that.

When the day rolled around, I met my brother a few hours before proceedings started. We set up (with the help of a few others too), drew a race track on the main driveway in chalk, then we hit the piss. Nah. We were to busy laughing at the concept of a disabled friendly sports day, I mean who the bloody hell replaces a javelin with a bed pan?? Oh that’s right, me!

As the athletes began to arrive, hm, okay competitors is a better way to put it, there really was a nervous sense of excitement in the air. I think everyone was curious as I’s always stated that I wanted to incorporate everyday items from the care home and adapt them into competitive sporting events. For instance, if a non-wheelchair user was to participate in the wheelchair races they’d have to do it on a shower commode.

I was all about levelling the playing field so that everyone could have a fair crack – disability or nor.

“Let’s get ready to rummmmble!” With everyone wearing their team specific colours it was a pretty cool sight to see, this dream really was coming to life. Especially when all the trash talking and sledging began, I couldn’t have been happier. This was better than what I’d envisaged.

The first scheduled event was the three legged race, so we had people tying their legs to someone else’s, even to wheelchairs, then doing a lap of the race track. This was all a bit of a disaster but it was good to get the teething problems out of the way first up. Still, everyone had a fair laugh and that’s what was most important. The next two events which were tunnel ball and hoola hoop endure went way more smoothly, plus everyone’s competitive spirit was rising. Whomp, time for the limbo competition, now this was something that everyone got into. Haha, it was pretty funny watching a wheelchair drive under the bar but the bar goes up rather than having someone trying to bend under it.

By now I think most were having fun so it was time to ruin that, it was time for my resident’s revenge event. Yes, it was time for the eating competition, only this wasn’t with hot dogs or meat pies, this was going to be with the medical food formula that’s injected into feeding tubes. Now this is some gross sticky shit. But not surprisingly an everyone was so caught up in the moment several folk scoffed that sustenance down. You could see the disgust in the staff’s faces, the horror that some people are made to live off this stuff. Haha I was watching on with a glint in my eye, sucker!

Up next was the highlight of the day, the main event (or this is how I was selling it), it was time for the pan toss. Um, yeah, quite possibly this has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of but in that I believe lies its beauty. Simply put, this event was to throw a bed pan as far as possible, yet oh man seeing that toilet flying in the sky, well no words. Try to envisage it, yep seriously dumb shit. But beyond this sight for sore eyes, it was interesting to watch the different tossing techniques. The full discus spin, the underarm bowl, even the shot put. Classic times. And I do believe the furthest toss was about forty metres… er we won’t talk about the pans that ended up on the roof.

Now, eating competitions aside it was time for some good old fashioned barbeque tucker. It also provided a good chance to de-brief about the afternoon so far, oh and continue with the trash talking. It was shaping up to be an epic dat. A day of bonding that both the residents and staff alike needed – and this would give everyone something to talk about for the next twelve months until the next sports day. Competitive banter is awesome.

But we weren’t done yet, next came the wheelchair races (and what provided massive bragging rights for one person – my house was obsessed with winning this, and she did), then came the grand finale of the egg and spoon race, whoops did I forget to boil the eggs!! More laughs were has by all.

Drum roll please… and the winner is… community… um, I mean the blue team, house one! My dodgy umpiring couldn’t even get green across the line, oh well there would always be next year. Anyhow, speeches, an award ceremony and some team photos later, this biased umpire believes some great memories were made. There was a sense of pride amongst the taems that you could only compare with the closing ceremony at the Olympics… nah who am I kidding, this was waaay more prestigious than the Olympics!! Love.

About Mark

For all things a day-dreamer, a larrikin and an undeniable fighter. Mark advocates for both Adversity and Lyme Disease; and boasts a real passion for green living, nutrition and organic foods. Oh and he's a quadriplegic too. This spirited life coach, with prior background in marketing & advertising, now has more recent aspirations that include becoming a published author, and a business owner too. And when well enough, Mark’s also ticking off his bucket list, and he also volunteers with the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Mark is an ACIM student, an adventurer, and a sneaker collector. His dream is to one day get better and ride a bicycle around Australia.

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