Epic Accessibility: Commonwealth Games 2018!

G’day friends and welcome to another week and another blog post! I realise I haven’t done an accessibility adventure post for a while so it was about time to bring one out!

My family was so lucky to be able to attend not one, not two but 4 events at the 2018 Gold Coast commonwealth games. It was a big week with early mornings, late nights and lost voices. But I can honestly tell you it was so worth it!!

Attending sporting events such as this one comes a lot of accessibility challenges and a check list to tick off. Are our seats close enough to entrances, how many stairs do we have to climb, is there enough disabled parking, what about disabled bathrooms? Just to name a few.

Going to these things aren’t as simple as booking a ticket, it takes a lot of planning. But if you can plan like a pro, it is so worth it!

Let’s talk accessibility and seating!

accessibility was a big element of our Commonwealth games trip. picture showing the tables and pathways to the tall Beach Volleyball arena. Multiple flags of different countries are on the top of the stadium. you can see the scaffolding of the the stadium in the middle of the picture. Sand is also on the ground.
the height of the Beach Volleyball stadium is not done justice here! was incredible!

Usually, we are ok with about 5 stairs, but in order to secure tickets I had to be happy with climbing upwards of 20+ stairs on a steep incline. That I was nervous about. clearly the people who built these places enjoy watching patrons get a workout in and certainly earn their ticket! I can’t climb stairs independently due to quad strength and balance, so I have to have someone behind me to help me up and down them.  But you would do anything to be able to go to an international sporting event like the CG right!

You would think I would have hated every minute of not feeling like the accessibility was not up to standard from first glance. However, you would be wrong in that department my friends!

Everything was super accessible and they had so many places for accessible seating! When we scanned in our tickets at each venue, they looked at me and said ‘don’t climb those stairs, we have two spots in the accessible section’. Sometimes I was lucky enough to have my whole family sit with me. All it took at times was to ask if they had any accessible seating left when we arrived. At events like the diving and athletics is was only me and one other. But I was not complaining!

The organisers took all the anxiety of being stared at and trying to climb flights of stairs away. That meant I could enjoy the sports properly.

It was an incredible week, and made even more special by the people I was with, and the fact I could be myself and not stress about accessibility requirements. Not to mention amazing seats to go with it! I mean can you get any better than that!?

At the beach volleyball, we had front row seats, the athletics ground level seats, swimming and diving there was an accessible seating on the level on the entrance. Win!

See, if all event organisers put a little extra effort to ensure enough accessibility for everybody, including sign interpreters, sensory areas, ramps, quiet areas etc, more and more disabled people would attend events.

The one thing they excelled at was transport to the venue! Nearly every bus and taxi had a wheelchair access ramp or lift. Each driver was super kind and helpful and went above and beyond to make sure I was comfortable. Anxiety be gone!

Being able to witness history in the making!

a running track with 6 T54 Para athletes on the start line. 5 wearing white, one wearing green. the crowd is in the background. I am sitting with my dad and our backs our to the camera. We are wearing green and gold shirts to show support to the Aussie athletes. I am sitting in my wheelchair.
so glad this pic was taken!

Disabled sports have come a long way in the past few years. I was so grateful to be able to witness history being made.

The Gold Coast Commonwealth games was the first international sporting event that had Para sport competing at the same times as the other events. This meant our Para athletes got to compete in front of a packed house, which rarely ever happens.

The exposure para sport got was absolutely amazing. It was incredible to witness all the para athletes compete to the admiration of the spectators. Being in the crowd was so special. Let’s just say I was glad I was wearing sunglasses to hide the mascara running everywhere!

A memory that I will hold close to my heart was the T54 1500m event. It was Kurt Fearnley’s last track event in his career. The crowd shouting his name and the energy in the stadium was electric. I don’t care what anyone says but I swear at the end he waved at me! It was so special. There is footage of it somewhere I swear!

I cried more in that one event than what I did that whole year. To be there as a proud disabled woman witnessing para athletes at their best, being welcomed and accepted by the public was something so special.

I hope that events like this continue, and the merging of the two sporting disciplines can continue to be combined.

That event showed the world just how bloody amazing para athletes are, and that they won’t be overlooked. It was time for us to compete side by side. It was amazing that my Country was the first to merge the two together.

As a disabled woman, I had never felt more accepted and part of the ‘crew’ ever. From the accessibility features, and generous volunteer and support staff, to the crowd,  to witnessing Kurt and the other Para Athletes crush it, was amazing

I hope the inclusion will go from strength to strength for many years to come!

check out more other accessible holiday adventures! https://livingabled.com.au/how-cruising-is-the-best-abled-holiday-ever/

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