Every athlete has an inspiring tale

Lake Macquarie played host to a spectacular sporting event last weekend: the 2017 World Disabled Waterski Championships.

I had the privilege of attending the launch and meeting some of the 44 athletes from 10 countries who competed in the event at Myuna Bay.

Each has inspiring personal stories about overcoming adversity and seizing opportunity; stories like those of Australian competitor Belinda Sidman, who lost her leg as a teenager in a car accident but went on to learn, then master, the sport of waterskiing, ultimately becoming a multiple Australian champion in the trick and slalom events.

I am proud that Lake Macquarie was able to play a role in promoting the sport and the feats of these amazing athletes. Our City has a strong focus on inclusion and Council is committed to pursuing strategies that remove barriers to participation for people with disability.

The number of people living with disability in Lake Macquarie is higher than the state average, and we have a significant older population, so it is important that Council takes a leading role in advocating for people with disability and ensuring our City is accessible and inclusive.

Our draft Disability Action Plan for the next four years (2017-2021) is presently on public exhibition. It outlines important initiatives that will help us to meet the needs of our residents and visitors, including the continuation of the Ageing and Disability Panel to inform Council decisions, development of a free program of activities for people with disability to build networks and skills, and upgrades to improve accessibility at Council facilities.

ACTION: Competitors take to the water. Picture: Supplied

ACTION: Competitors take to the water. Picture: Supplied

It details plans to construct a changing place at Toronto Swim Centre, provide disability awareness training to all new council staff, investigate options to improve access to Lake Mac beaches, and educate local businesses on access and strategies for employing people with disability.

CHAMPIONS: Mayor Kay Fraser with some of the Australian disabled water ski team. Picture: Supplied

CHAMPIONS: Mayor Kay Fraser with some of the Australian disabled water ski team. Picture: Supplied

To see what other actions are identified in the draft Plan and share your feedback, visit haveyoursaylakemac.com.au/disabilityinclusion. Submissions close on Monday 29 May 2017.

Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Cr Kay Fraser