Sarah O’Meara

A mum’s story – holidaying with my child with SCI

Travelling with four young children might sound hectic enough for some, but for Sarah O’Meara and her family, the challenges are brought to a whole new level as their seven-year-old, Jake, has a spinal cord injury (SCI). Sarah shares her story…

Usually, when we have travelled as a family, there is a huge amount of equipment we need to bring for Jake – commodes, mattresses, chairs … you name it. Often, we have to actually bring a trailer so he has everything he needs while we’re away.

But even more confronting is the lack of access we find in most places we go, such as parks, beaches, pools and restaurants. It can make fun trips really tiring and mentally draining. We usually have to carry him into pools, up and down stairs or onto beaches because there aren’t accessible facilities. This is no mean feat as, even though he is still young, he is not little! As a mum, it is also heartbreaking because it is upsetting for Jake not to be able to participate in activities with everyone else.

Sargood on Collaroy, on the other hand, is an absolute godsend. We have stayed so many times now as it is so much fun, and it’s 100% accessible so we can do things as a family and no one has to be left out. The first time we came to Sargood on Collaroy we were literally blown away with how amazing it was in terms of its design and comfort – not to mention the staff, who are exceptional.

Even with two adults and four children ranging from three up to 11 years old, Sargood on Collaroy has something for all of us. The kids love the beach, the beautiful walks and the rock pools which are all close by, and there are so many different activities to try. Jake had a go snorkelling the last time we visited, which he absolutely loved. There is also a great technology room, with modified controllers so everyone can play. It has virtual reality headsets which allow us to play games together and escape to another world.

What is truly lovely is that the broader community of Collaroy is committed to accessibility and inclusion as well, which means that most places you go nearby – including cafes and restaurants – are easy to access and the people are very accommodating.

Sargood on Collaroy’s vision to set a new standard in accessible travel really means the world to our family. They are leading the way with inclusiveness and are changing people’s lives for the better. For someone like Jake to be able to join in activities with his family and feel included in the community is wonderful.

Most other places we visit just do the bare minimum in being ‘accessible’, and aren’t particularly accessible in reality. I find this incredibly frustrating. I would love to see councils and businesses follow Sargood on Collaroy’s lead and actually do so much more to accommodate people with disabilities, so that they can properly participate in life and be part of the community.