Ford Australia is providing a Ranger Wildtrak as the support vehicle for an all-abilities team aiming to be the first team to walk the entire 237km spine of Tjoritja/West MacDonnell Ranges on the challenging Larapinta Trail. The Ford Motor Company operates a corporate program FEDA – Ford Empowering Diverse Abilities – and the Larapinta trek was an ideal fit for the program.
Paul Pritchard, author and adventurer with a brain injury, and his friend Paul Allen, furniture designer, author and comedian, also with a brain injury, have put a team together to make the trek. Interestingly, it will be the very same team that made the first journey under human-power (able-bodied and disabled alike) from the lowest point to the highest point in Australia – from Kati Thanda/Lake Eyre to Targangil/Mount Kosciusko. That journey was 2,221km and took 43 days and was documented in the film Lowest to Highest, which was a hit and screened all over the world winning numerous awards. Check out the trailer at: https://rummin.com/lowest-highest/. Pritchard said they will also make of film of the Larapinta Trail challenge, which will be a three-part podcast documentary for Disability Voices Tasmania.
Frank Parisi, owner of Frank’s Engineering on Coburg North in Victoria, will provide and fit a left accelerator adaptor, steering knob and left-hand indicator adaptor, which will allow Pritchard to do some of the driving. Frank’s Engineering is a leader in dual control modifications who, in consultation with occupational therapists, aims to assist many physically disadvantaged people to continue leading as independent a life as possible. Their product range is wide and varied, designed to provide the maximum benefit to improve the quality of life for physically disadvantaged drivers in Melbourne.
“By trekking Tjoritja and filming it we are not saying “Hey, look at us, aren’t we special.” That would be doing a disservice to all people with disabilities (PWDs) who’s skills may lie in other areas rather than the physical,” said Pritchard. “On the contrary, we hope that anyone who looks like us might see us and know that they’re not alone – that they too can have a go. That’s what matters to us.”
Pritchard added that the aim of making the film of the adventure is to further normalise disability, promote further inclusion and address, in their own small way, the shocking PWD unemployment and rate – 63% nationally! “By working together, we will form a strong cooperative team, in which each individual is able to go beyond their usual boundaries. In doing so, we will demonstrate how our disability does not define who we are and how cooperation makes us (and everyone) whole,” said Pritchard. “What is more, PWDs tend to be portrayed in just two lights: superhumans succeeding against all odds or victims in need of paternalism. There is often no middle ground, so we aim to dispel that myth.” Interestingly, the team is not raising money for charity – they never do. Just walking Tjoritja will be enough to show that PWDs are capable of many things given a modicum of support.
The19 day trek will get underway on 6 July from Alice Springs and concludes on 23 July on the summit of Mount Sonder. To follow the Larapinta Adaptive Project, visit the expedition blog: https://allabilitiestraverse.blogspot.com.
Also, to find out more about the crowd funding campaign visit: https://www.pozible.com/profile/larapinta-adaptive – the team is still looking for a fuel sponsor so let’s see what’s “pozible”.