PHILLIP Island’s Hayden Marshall was last week named the Bass Coast Young Citizen of the Year for his inspirational role in the community, including defying medical experts beliefs following an accident which left him a quadriplegic.
Doctors said he had a three per cent chance of walking following the accident – and now he’s on his way to becoming one of the three per cent.
Hayden was practising gymnastics on the family trampoline in September 2016 when he landed awkwardly.
The teenager broke his neck in four places and suffered a spinal cord injury.
Up until the accident, Hayden was a gymnastics coach at the Phillip Island YMCA.
“When I first had my accident … my boss said to my mum that there are a lot of people in wheelchairs all over the world that work for the YMCA,” Hayden said.
“He said my position as a gymnastics coach still stands.”
And now, more than two and a half years after the accident, he’s returned to coaching gymnastics.
“Initially I was just a helper for the coaches. It took me a while to get back into coaching.
“Mainly because I didn’t know how the kids were going to react and I had to learn new coaching techniques because I could no longer demonstrate skills.”
Luckily, the kids were very supportive.
“They were happy to have me back in the gym.”
Hayden now coaches his own classes with the help of a junior coach to help demonstrate skills and set-up equipment.
He’s also a qualified gymnastics judge.
“Since the accident, I’ve been doing lots of rehab to hopefully prove the doctors wrong who gave me a three per cent chance of ever walking again.
“I’ve made lots of improvements with my recovery and continue to work every day on getting more function.
“I like to show people, especially the kids that I teach, that they can do anything they put their mind to.
“I believe life is about choices and when I had my accident; I could’ve chosen to accept that my life was over. Instead, I chose to work hard to get back to doing what I was doing before the accident.”
Hayden thanked friends, family and the community for their support – including through fundraising efforts and local trades coming together to help modify their home for his wheelchair.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without all their support.”
Deputy mayor Cr Bruce Kent said Hayden is an inspiring and determined young man.
“He has not let adversity get in the way of a love and passion for gymnastics,” Cr Kent said.
“It was a life-changing experience for him,” Cr Kent said of Hayden’s accident.
“This event started a long journey for Hayden where, with the support of his family, he had to learn how to feed himself, dress himself, and to use a wheelchair.”
Hayden recently finished Year 12 at Newhaven College.
Newhaven College student Meg Hynes was the runner-up for the Bass Coast Young Citizen of the Year Award.
Mayor Cr Brett Tessari described Meg as a down-to-earth and approachable young person who makes the most of every opportunity.
Meg was also named a Bass Coast Young Leader in 2018 and will be a school captain at Newhaven College this year.
Meg’s been involved in many projects and events, including a gender equity project, World Challenge India, and has volunteered as a spokesperson for the Rotary Youth Forum.
“Meg’s adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors saw her apply – and be accepted- to sail abroad as the young endeavour on an 11-day voyage from Gladstone to Brisbane in 2018,” Cr Tessari said.
“It was on this trip of a lifetime that Meg’s leadership skills were recognised and she received the Order of Australia Young Endeavour Award.”
Meg regularly assists with fundraising for community groups, while working part-time and playing for the Wonthaggi United Soccer Club.
Last year, she was awarded the Most Valuable Player.
Meg thanked all those who’ve supported her during the last year, as well as Newhaven College vice-principal Jason Scott for the nomination.