In May 2017 Polytan completed the track resurfacing for the Fearnley Dawes Athletic Centre, which incorporated a custom designed wheelchair training lane. This incredible facility is the second in the world to include a dedicated wheelchair lane and now enables equal opportunity for all athletes to train and compete side by side.
The Fearnley Dawes Athletic Track is the current training ground for World Championship and Paralympic medallists Christie Dawes, Kurt Fearnley and Rheed McCracken. The facility experienced much attention in the lead up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and has been progressing forwardS in leaps and bounds ever since the upgrade.
With the facilities reputation increasing substantially and similarly, an increased awareness of inclusivity within sporting and recreational activities developing, the facility has been overwhelmed with further investments.
Some key investments included the Federal Government Stronger Communities Grant, NSW Government Community Building Partnership Grant, a local Newcastle City Council Grant, Little Athletics NSW Grant, a donation from Toro Australia and further cash investments from local businesses in the surrounding community.
This funding has led to facility upgrades such as the creation of a wheelchair sports admin office, a photo finish booth, new IAAF accredited discus and hammer throw cage, shade structures beside the track, new high jump mats, utility vehicles and the assistance in further capital and maintenance works. Updates like these lead to a more appealing, functional and inclusive facility for athletes to train and compete.
Additionally, after the completion of the track upgrade, Polytan partnered with the Newcastle Athletics Field Management Inc in a Gold Level Sponsorship to provide the venue with additional funding for two years.
Twelve months on and the centre has grown dramatically with more people training and competing at the venue than ever before!
For the first time, wheelchair athletes now have the opportunity to train with their friends and colleagues. Incredibly, over 10,000 school students are attending over 25 carnivals in 2018 and there are weekly training sessions from athletic development squads such as Hunter Sports High School, Hunter Academy of Sport and Newcastle Grammar School.
Now, over 600 people have casual training passes which are currently available for 21 hours per week. Wheelchair Sports NSW have regular weekly sessions for people to come and try wheelchair sports sessions supporting the transition into wheelchair sports for disabled athletes.
“In its first season the Newcastle City Little Athletics Centre has doubled its numbers since the resurfacing growing from 110 to 220 Little Athletes!” – Scott Westcott, Facilities Manager
The Fearnley Dawes Centre now pride themselves on being an inclusive venue where able-bodied and the disabled can train alongside each other with the new additional wheelchair lane.
“The unique work by Polytan has been a major driver in turning around what was only a short time ago a rundown and tired facility, now it is a busy and vibrant centre of community sport in the heart of Newcastle.” – Scott Westcott
Providing a successful blueprint for future Australian sporting facilities, Polytan are keen to continue raising awareness about the benefits of developing inclusive sporting facilities.
“We want to see every state and territory in Australia embrace an athletics tracks with dedicated wheelchair facilities. Polytan will provide advice and education to any facility looking to become inclusive and wishing to increase sport participation for the entire community” – Paul Kamphuis, General Manager, Polytan Asia Pacific.
With so many achievable and affordable ways to create inclusive sporting facilities, Polytan recognises that education is the key to change and as such have partnered with Victoria Disability Sport and Recreation, to help raise awareness within the community.
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