Sisterly love prompted Emily Hardbottle to expand the reach of wheelchair basketball to Perth’s western suburbs.

The 15-year-old lives with and cares for her younger sister Lauren, who has spina bifida.

Emily this year helped launch the Basketball Transition Program in Melville.

The program, run through Wheelchair Sports WA, was set up in response to 11-year-old Lauren’s passion for the sport.

“Before this year we had to keep travelling to Mirrabooka, because that’s where the other program is, ” Emily said.

“I’d love to start a junior competition but there is a stigma around wheelchair basketball — a lot of people don’t want to play it when they can play regular basketball.”

Each Friday, 14 disabled and able-bodied young people test themselves on the basketball courts at Melville Recreation Centre for the program.

Wheelchair basketball paralympian Amber Merritt volunteers her time to coach the Transition Program. “I fell in love with this program because I enjoy giving back to an organisation that has given so much to me, ” she said.

“It gives great exposure to our sport.”

Emily is being recognised for her work caring in the community through the Young People Who Care awards.

She dedicates most of her waking hours to making sure her sister is comfortable and aids her personal needs.

The winners were announced in Perth on December 9, with Emily being one of three winners, alongside Alexander Tanasijevic and Elise Gielens, who each devote much of their time to caring for a parent, sibling or to help with community services, exemplifying the spirit of the awards. They also set a fine example to follow for people of all ages and prove that caring individuals enhance the strength of a community.


© The West Australian

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