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The Thrills and Spills of Year 9’s PDHPE Day

On Wednesday, Year 9 underwent an action-packed PDHPE Day, including wheelchair basketball, Zumba, workshops to learn about positive self-talk, and a thought-provoking performance on risk taking.

It’s normal for our young people to push boundaries, try new things and explore unfamiliar territory as they develop into independent young adults. After all, our students know they won’t achieve their goals by playing it safe or sitting on the sidelines. They know that embracing risk is important if they are to master new skills and overcome setbacks. But taking negative risks can have harmful consequences on their health, safety and wellbeing. Put simply, our young people don't benefit from taking risks unless they think through the possible consequences.

As Year 9 learnt during PDHPE Day, there are a lot of factors that they need to take into consideration when deciding to take a risk or not and they must not succumb to peer group pressure and take a risk that they’re not okay with. Particularly, when it can have serious consequences on their health, their relationships and their education.

Head of PDHPE, Ms Bauer split Year 9 into smaller groups, so they could get the most out of the different activities and workshops on offer.

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Brendon Talbott from Wheelchair Sports NSW ACT facilitated a fast moving and fun wheelchair basketball session in the Big Gym. Brendon, who has spina bifida, told students how his disability affected him from the moment he woke up in the morning, to the moment he goes to sleep. “It affects every aspect of my life. And it affects everyone in my life. I can’t take anything for granted. I have to think about hills, ramps and public transport. I have to plan for every aspect of my day.”

As Brendon explained to the students, he was born with his disability, so he doesn’t know any different. But he works alongside people who are now in wheelchairs as a result of traffic or sporting accidents, which have literally turned their lives upside down. It was great for our students to think about some of the challenges and stigma people with disability face each day. And it certainly developed their empathy and insight.

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Our students also gained a new-found appreciation for wheelchair basketball, which is currently hailed as the fastest growing sport for athletes with a disability. Even our netballers and basketball players found that shooting from a wheelchair is a lot harder than it looks – despite the fact that Brendon, who has been involved in the sport for many years, made it look so easy!

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Over in the Small Gym, Aline Pascuzzo from Zumba Fitness took students through their paces with a high energy routine that had everyone shedding their inhibitions and moving to the rhythm of the beat. The energetic atmosphere was so much fun that even the shyest students found themselves stepping out of their comfort zones and dancing in the middle of the circle, busting some serious moves with Aline!

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Meanwhile in the Hall, students got together for a workshop with Glen Gerreyn, Director and Co-Founder of The HopeFull Institute. Glen, who has spoken at TEDx and written five books, is passionate about inspiring people to take positive action in their lives.

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As he explained to the students, we all have lots of words bouncing around in our head, but positive self-talk can really affect our life in a good way. In fact, we can change our reality by developing a positive outlook. He showed our students how to question their negative thoughts, reframe their self-doubt into self-belief and turn their concerns into strengths – all of which, will help them know their limits and empower them to make good decisions.

Year 9 then had a great chat via Zoom with Paralympian, Monique Murphy, who won a silver medal at the Paralympics in Rio. In 2014, Monique woke up from an induced coma without her right foot. She'd fallen from a balcony onto a glass roof at a University party. Her drink, she suspects, had been spiked. Despite a devastating injury that changed her life, Monique showed the students the importance of resilience, as well as the benefits of taking positive risks through her swimming career.

Finally, our students came together for a performance in the Big Gym, with an actor miming some of the possible consequences of risk-taking behaviours, including reckless driving and pot smoking. Students were invited up on stage to play different parts. It was thought provoking stuff and a great way of helping them to assess risk and think about consequences.

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It’s important to remember that our young people are still exploring the world that adults have already come to know. They are learning about themselves and their social world. PDHPE Day highlighted to our Year 9 students that trying out new things often involves risk, but they must also think about consequences. By taking positive risks, our young people can navigate social relationships with confidence, develop a positive sense of who they are, and figure out how to do things independently without putting themselves in harm’s way.

All in all, a great day PDHPE Department!