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The sky? No longer the limit

Written by: Iris

The sky? No longer the limit post image

AWAIPARA man is dedicating his every moment to making adventure tourism accessible for children and adults with disabilities – here and overseas.

Fourteen year-old Abigail Guthrie, who has tetraplegic cerebral palsy, travelled over from Philadelphia earlier this year for an extreme week of adventure in New Zealand. While unable to communicate and with no body control, she was able to use a Making Trax paragliding buggy to launch off Coronet Peak, and use Williams’ harness system when she skydived from 13,000 feet.

And last weekend, Southlander Jadyn Barton got to go skydiving. He suffers from ataxia telangiectasia, affecting the parts of the brain responsible for speech, balance, and immunity.

‘‘We’re trying to get Jadyn to do as many activities as possible before it’s too hard for him,’’ Williams said.

He and his team of volunteers work with firms here and overseas, including in North America and Europe, to put different infrastructure into their existing systems, through adaptations and ‘‘thinking outside circles’’.

‘‘When I started it, I thought it would not be possible because I’m dependent on carers.’’

However, with the right attitude and energy, ‘‘anything is possible’’.

‘‘It just made itself, because there is a niche in the market and there is nothing there – and there should be.’’

With more than 15 years’ experience as an outdoor guide, Williams’ passion has taken him everywhere from the jungles of Honduras and the mountains in Switzerland to Morocco. He now draws on this experience and tests all the equipment himself – so if he can do it, ‘‘anybody can do it’’.

‘‘The more you do, the easier it is to put life into different thought-patterns.’’

For Canterbury’s Skydiving Kiwis company, Williams developed a harness system that makes it safe for anybody to go skydiving. For Infinity Paragliding in Queenstown, he engineered a buggy system.

‘‘I know how harsh life is and I run it to the max.’’

Other systems include a rafting harness, which was developed for a European company and allows those in wheelchairs to go into the wilderness. He is also working with Ultimate Descents in Murchison to bring a new harness into their business.

Heli-rafting is another activity being considered.

As Making Trax gains momentum, the keen adventurer’s next initiative is an accessible travel website, which will allow people to research their travel options and find those places most accessible.

‘‘Honestly, in the whole world, this idea of getting people with disabilities into these activities is brand new.’’

To follow Jezza’s journey, visit: makingtrax.co.nz or go to: facebook.com/makingtrax.co.nz.