Students make their mark at Halberg Junior Games

IN ACTION: Lilian Exton playing Boccia at the National Halberg Junior Games.

Two athletes with disabilities from Avonside Girls’ High School have recently made their mark at national events.

Lilian Exton and Alisha Mill competed at the Halberg Junior Games in Auckland and the National Boccia Championships in Wellington earlier this month.

Run by the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, the Halbergs are a national three-day sport competition for physically disabled and visually impaired children and teenagers aged eight to 21.

There are a variety of sports including swimming, athletics, wheelchair racing, boccia and basketball.

Lilian and Alisha represented Canterbury at the Halbergs and came second and third respectively in the A-grade boccia category.

Boccia is a precision ball sport similar to bowls and petanque played by athletes with physical disabilities.

Lilian also received the award for the top athletics non-classified female at the closing ceremony.

“We went to closing ceremony on Sunday and no one knew who was going to get what awards. Team Canterbury got four awards. I was one of the lucky ones who got an award for athletics non-classified best female. It was an amazing feeling,” said Lilian.

At the boccia champs, Alisha’s team won a silver medal and Lilian won the categories for open class champion and most improved player.

Alisha has acioscaphlohumeral muscular dystrophy, causing her muscles to be weak.

She has very little muscle around her shoulder, upper arms and abdomen, which makes her core unbalance, making it difficult to walk unassisted.

This has also caused her facial muscles to stop working.

Lilian has otospondylo megaepiphyseal dysplasia, the only person in New Zealand to have the condition which makes her bones grow too much, causing joint paint and rigidness.

Both students are also deaf, their conditions affecting their ability to hear.

Head of learning support at Avonside Katrina Boxall said the two girls are fiercely independent and competitive.

“They have amazingly supportive families also, just really awesome people,” said Ms Boxall.