Charlotte Pawson: ParaFed Canterbury
Why youth worker Charlotte never has a bad day
There’s so much more than just sports on offer at Charlotte Pawson’s sports programs.
Friendships blossom as the children with disabilities meet others facing similar challenges to themselves at the action-packed sessions.
“When you see a five-year-old girl with a disability making friends with another little girl with a similar disability, it’s just so beautiful,” says Charlotte, the junior sports manager at ParaFed Canterbury.
“She may never have met another child with a similar disability, so it’s lovely to be able to bring kids together in this way.”
Charlotte designs and delivers sports programs for children and youth aged five to 21 with physical disabilities. She offers a different sport each week, including football, triathlon, laser tag and 10-pin bowling, as well as disability-specific sports.
Through physical activity, children are encouraged to build confidence, a love of movement and a sense of community.
Parents, too, have an opportunity to make friends and help create a support network for themselves.
Charlotte also manages the ParaFed Canterbury Junior Team, which competes in the annual Halberg Junior Disability Games, and in 2017 won the best regional team award.
Winning is always nice, but the highlight of her role is the kids themselves, she says.
“They are just so courageous and determined. It’s so rewarding seeing them achieve their goals and have success. And that’s just so inspiring. You can’t have a bad day when you are with people like that.”
Charlotte says she’s honoured and thankful to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.
“We feel it’s great to have our organisation recognised for what it does.”
Families pay a nominal annual fee for their kids to participate, so Parafed will use the $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to keep participation costs to a minimum.