Her coach suggested she instead take up seated archery, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Ameera Lee is a national champion in archery. Source: Supplied / Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT
The 2021 Australian Open champion says her first international para-archery competition was an empowering experience, and she now has dreams to compete at the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024.
The seven women and girls are from different sporting backgrounds and are of different ages and ethnicities, but they are all involved for one main purpose – increasing female participation in wheelchair sports.
The How I Roll exhibition launch in Sydney last month. Source: Twitter / Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT
CEO of state sport organisation Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT, Mick Garnett says fewer than 30 per cent of athletes in his organisation identify as female, a number which he calls “unacceptable”.
He hopes the exhibition will create role models for other women and girls with disability, with plans to take the portraits to secondary schools around NSW and the ACT.
“It was really important to do live sittings … I really wanted to meet with the girls,” she said.
A notable omission from the portraits is the athletes’ wheelchairs. Neilson says that decision was made in order to focus on the individual.
Ameera Lee with her son and artist Kirsty Neilson at the exhibition launch. Source: SBS News / Tys Occhiuzzi
“People judge people in wheelchairs really quickly with their first impression. The girls are so much more than that. I think that’s why it was important to not show them in their wheelchairs.”
People judge people in wheelchairs really quickly … The girls are so much more than that.
– Kirsty Neilson, Artist
“Below the pieces there would be a bit about them as sportswomen, but primarily it was about seeing them without the wheelchair.”
“To our allies and supporters, see us, don’t look past us,” Senator Steele-John said in a speech on Thursday.
The 20-year-old wheelchair basketballer has spina bifida and says she has faced challenges all her life.
Geneva Colin with her portrait. Source: SBS News / Tys Occhiuzzi
“Racism, my disability is a big thing for me, and just being a female in a mixed team [are all challenges], so it’s really hard for me to get involved,” she said.
But Colin has found her place in wheelchair basketball, with dreams of making it into the national team.
Geneva Colin encourages others to dream big. Source: Supplied / Karen Watson
Her message for other women with disability is one of self-belief.
“Anything is possible if you just believe in yourself, no matter what disability you have,” she said.