‘Breaking Limits’ at Holy Trinity Primary School

13494926_998369676878624_4952599828772179404_nThis week at Holy Trinity Primary School there has been a focus on sport with the theme of ‘Breaking Limits’:  Understanding sport for people with disability. They have had a variety of guests visiting during the week and yesterday (Wednesday) Bradley Stoke Matters had the pleasure of joining the school for worship, and meeting their special guest Bart Gee.

Born with a rare physical disability called Arthrogryposis, Bart has weak muscles and stiff joints. Doctors said Bart would never walk and may not ever have the strength to be able to sit up independently; that he would have a bleak outlook to life. However, at 34 years old, living a relatively independent and normal life, Bart drove himself to the school and stood to share his story with the pupils, staff and some parents. 

Brought up in a Christian family, his pastor prayed that one day he would walk and play the organ like his father who played at church most weeks. Bart started to walk when he was 3 years old and, since then, has been able to take part in many different activities at varying levels of ability including running, football, table tennis and swimming. In fact, last year he swam 1.5k in open water. 

At the age of 5, Bart wanted to learn how to play the piano.  Doctors said it would never happen and there was even doubt as to whether he would have the strength to press down a key.  However, having started piano lessons he gradually progressed so that at the age of 11 he passed his Grade 5 piano exam. When Bart was 19 years old, he moved away from home for a year and went to Nexus Academy of Music Ministry in Coventry. This was where he really developed his ability on the piano. Bart shared his talent by playing the piano in the school hall for the children to sing along to with their worship song.

To get just a tiny glimpse of the challenge Bart faces every day, he asked some children to sit on the floor and try to get up without using their arms or bending their legs. Of course, they couldn’t. However with the aid of a chair, and one elbow, eventually all managed to stand – some took longer than others and some were more tired from the exercise. All were surprised that this is how Bart has to get up from the floor.

Bart spoke with passion about being determined to do things. Heidi Hall, school teacher and organiser of Sports Week summed up the stand out message to the children: “Ever since I was born, everything has been difficult. Every little thing has been hard. Everything has been challenging. But it has all been possible. I just had to find a way to achieve it and keep trying. So in your life, you will try to do something and it will be hard. Things will be tough. Challenging. But not impossible. If it’s possible, you can do it. You just need to find a way and keep trying until you do it”.
She said “What a fantastic, positive message from an inspirational person who has done such amazing things with his life. Children, staff and parents alike were left in wonder at human possibility”. 

Bart joined some of the school children for seated table tennis whilst other classes tried adapted versions of hockey and skipping as part of their sports week. By the end of this week, all children will have taken part in 14 sports including indoor kurling, boccia, basketball and football. Each of these sports are adapted to give the children a disability of some sort, in order for them to appreciate the challenges and differences in the game. Heidi said “the ‘blind’ football was probably the most difficult of all of these, with children playing blindfolded and using an official ‘jingle’ ball to pass between them and shoot”. It appears the aim for pupils to appreciate disabilities, to show respect and gain understanding has been achieved so far and, most importantly, for individuals “to be the best they can be” recognising their potential. 

You can watch a short video showing Bart on the link below called turning disability into possibility.

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