Paralympian and Gosford MP Liesl Tesch was special guest at the Port’s first ever school leadership morning tea hosted by Port Stephens MP Kate Washington at Raymond Terrace

LEADERSHIP: State MPs Kate Washington and Liesl Tesch  with the 160-plus students, teachers and principals from 24 Port Stephens schools.
LEADERSHIP: State MPs Kate Washington and Liesl Tesch with the 160-plus students, teachers and principals from 24 Port Stephens schools.

Former school teacher, Paralympian and Gosford MP Liesl Tesch was special guest at the Port’s first ever school leadership morning tea hosted by state member Kate Washington on February 11.

More than 160 students, teachers and principals from 24 Port private and public schools sat in awe listening to the amazing life story of the ‘wheelchair warrior’ during her address at the Raymond Terrace Bowling Club.

For the leaders of tomorrow, the event provided a rare insight into the life of two strong leaders and parliamentarians, happy to share their past experiences and knowledge.

Ms Tesch, a self-confessed sporting fanatic, gave an inspiring talk explaining how, at age 19, she crashed her mountain bike and suffered a spinal cord injury which would render her wheelchair bound. “Over time and through intense rehabilitation I am now able to walk short distances and wheel long distances.”

Change is not always by choice, Ms Tesch noted, but it was something she soon learned to embrace. 

“I discovered wheelchair basketball and I can now proudly boast to being a silver medalist at the Sydney Paralympics and the first woman to play professional wheelchair basketball in Europe,” she said.

“I have also learned how to live my life with a disability and still do the things I want to do, like playing sport and having fun.”

Earlier Ms Washington said she was amazed that 24 of the 26 schools in Port Stephens had participated in what she hoped would become an annual event. She talked about her time attending schools in Port Stephens, meeting with the leadership students and discussing issues of interest.

“It is wonderful to be able to have such a large cross-section of students – private and public - in the one place at the one time,” she said.

“This is an opportunity for student connections across schools and across our diverse communities. It is hoped that through these discussions students can learn and take away whatever information that may suit their school. My hope also is for all of you to become leaders of tomorrow.”

The students were later presented with certificates.