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The joy of working with our country’s best

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There will be a lot of noise coming from Jesse Garrow’s house this week, as the Mater Education Diploma of Nursing (DoN) student cheers loudly as he watches Australia’s wheelchair rugby team take the court in their quest for Gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Jesse has a vested interest in the Australian Steelers’ bid to again bring home Gold. He has spent a lot of time in the past year providing assistance to two members of the team – Mick Ozanne and Ben Fawcett – while they’ve prepared for the Tokyo Paralympics.

“I first started working with Mick when I applied and was accepted to do work experience with Spinal Life Australia in early 2020, shortly after I started my Diploma of Nursing. More recently I’ve worked with Ben, they’re both incredible athletes and also great guys,” Jesse said.

“I wanted to do work experience while I studied because I learn best through doing, and I figured I could provide people like Michael and Ben the support they needed.

“Mater Education has always been very supportive in helping me to do this work experience because they recognise what a great opportunity it is for me, and how it will make me a better nurse.”

Wheelchair rugby is an intense, contact team sport played indoors on a basketball sized court. To be eligible to play, the athletes must have a significant impairment that affects their arms and legs.

Jesse’s work experience with Spinal Life Australia has involved providing general support to the athletes such as helping them transfer to and from their chairs and taking them to training sessions.

He has also progressed from only working with people with low support needs to all levels of support.

“I’ve learnt so much from Michael, Ben and also Mitch McCracken, another wheelchair rugby player who’s not playing in Tokyo, about determination and hard work,” Jesse said.

“Thanks to Spinal life Australia, I have now had the opportunity to become fully immersed in a community I previously did not know existed and witness the amazing capabilities of these astounding men and women especially Mitch McCracken. 

“I have seen his ongoing dedication to his sport and teammates, on and off the court - his persistence and integrity inspires me to continue pursuing a career in healthcare. I believe the Mater has provided the best opportunities possible to achieve this life goal." 

“Working with them has also given me an insight into how everyone has specific needs and how I have to know how to individualise my care when I start working as a nurse. It’s also really helped me realise how the care we provide can influence a person’s healthcare experience.”

Jesse is set to graduate from his Diploma of Nursing with Mater Education in October and has applied to further advance his skills in 2022 with a Bachelor of Nursing and Paramedics at Australian Catholic University (ACU).

“My time with our wheelchair rugby athletes has been a highlight in my healthcare journey to this point and shown me I can make a difference in people’s lives by providing some of the support they need to live their best lives,” he said.

“While my goal is to keep learning and growing in a career in healthcare, in the near future, my hope is to soon be celebrating with Michael and Ben when they get back to Brisbane with their gold medals!”

Pictured: Jesse with the Australia Wheelchair Rugby team