Sydney Sixers and NSW Breakers fast bowler Lauren Cheatle said her role as an ambassador and support worker for What Ability had given her a better perspective of the challenges she’s faced over the years.
The 23-year-old, who has battled what most would call an unfair share of injuries, said it was hard not to be inspired by the young adults she works with, who, despite their special needs, face life with a positive spirit.
“I’ve had a couple of injuries during my career and sat on the sidelines,” she said. “But working with these kids and their families has given me a perspective of the challenges I’m facing.
“When I miss a session or a match it can feel like the end of the world, but when I rock up to work the next day and see what these kids go through, and how they handle that, you see it’s not the end of the world.”
In her role as a support worker for What Ability - a NDIS registered support service which was created to bring happiness with people living with a disability, Cheatle might take participants on outings to the beach, sporting events, the zoo, theme parks, sporting events, or even to a local café for a coffee.
However, the pace ace – who made her debut for Australia in 2017 – hopes to open a new world for participants at the free All Abilities clinic she’s hosting in conjunction with Cricket NSW and What Ability on Wednesday, April 13 at Bankstown Oval, Bankstown..
The fun-filled activities designed to engage people with special needs start at 9am.
“I think for these kids being in any sport and outside is important,” said Cheatle. “For us to put a clinic on is quite special.
“I’m glad to be involved because to have them outside; to have them make new friends, and to learn skills they might not have had before is really cool. It will be a good day.
“We have equipment that is safe and suitable for all participants. It’s just a good opportunity for them to enjoy the day and to enjoy the sport.”
Cheatle said What Ability’s creed – when happiness comes first you unlock your potential – resonated with her.
“From a cricket point of view, I feel like I play my best when I’m my happiest,” she said. “I’ve tried to carry that through my career.
“I feel that for our kids, when they’re enjoying themselves, you see it on their faces. It gives me such joy and fulfillment.”
Cheatle said she was proud to work for an organisation which is having a positive impact on so many lives.
“I got involved with What Ability two years ago,” she said. “I love doing this work.
“I feel as an athlete we have a lot of space in this community to help make a difference, and to give back to those who support us.
“I feel [my work at What Ability] is a good way to do that.”
Through its Foundation, What Ability eases the financial burden on families who have a member with special needs by “unlocking experiences,” including the Cheatle-hosted cricket clinic.
Todd Liubinskas, What Ability’s partnership manager, described Cheatle as someone whose admirable qualities extends beyond her wholehearted performances on the cricket field.
“Lauren impresses me as a phenomenal athlete,” he said. “She’s a pioneer of the female sporting industry, and she’s a very caring person . . . it is natural she comes on board as part of the What Ability Foundation.
He added cricket was a sport all Australians should experience.
“It doesn’t matter if you can walk or have to sit down, you can always catch a ball, throw a ball, or call out to someone,” he said. “There are so many elements of being involved, even if you’re not mobile.
“It’s important to have inclusiveness in cricket, and to also introduce new skills; improve hand-eye co-ordination. We’re really trying to open up our diverse range of sporting areas . . . NRL right through to soccer, and cricket is part of that. We’re really excited to have Cricket NSW on board.”
• Anyone wishing to attend the All Abilities clinic on April 13 should register on the What Ability Foundation website