At 22 years old, Isabelle Evans is fighting a genetic degenerative nerve disorder that progressively paralyses her body. Her disability affects every aspect of her life. She uses a wheelchair, has bladder and bowel complications, developed epilepsy, and can’t regulate her body temperature or blood pressure.

Despite all these challenges, Isabelle is determined to eradicate the stigma around disability and propel opportunities for disability sports through her work as a Game Changer for Brisbane not-for-profit Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association. As a Game Changer she plays an integral role in educating the younger generation on living with disability by working alongside other appointed Game Changers to deliver the Inclusive School Sports Program.

A keen athlete, the program also sees her coach able-bodied students in para sports such as Goalball and Boccia and encourage locals living with a disability to gain independence through sport. “I hope to start a movement of getting girls with disabilities out there keeping fit and active, making friends and growing a community. I feel like that’s the most important thing to have — a community that you know, trust and always has your back!” Isabelle said.

The change in Isabelle’s life was dramatic, and she quickly learnt the limitations and stigma in sport for wheelchair-bound athletes. Despite the mental and physical challenges that she has faced, Isabelle is determined to share her story and encourage others. “We need emotional support to deal with living life differently. It’s been proven physical activity is great for mental health so if we can offer sports that are accessible everyone, there really isn’t anything to lose,” she said.

Having found a new sporting passion in Wheelchair Rugby, where she recently competed as the only Queensland female in the National Rugby Wheelchair Championships, and a career educating the younger generation on living with a disability, Isabelle is well on her way to achieving her mission.

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