Forty-eight per cent of people in wheelchairs have mental health issues – the work of ‘Team 22’ aims to reduce this. Pictured is ‘Team 22’ members Beau, Steele and Brendan.

BACK-to-back premiership coach Beau Vernon has been named head ambassador for ‘Team 22’ – an initiative to support people with spinal cord injuries that was launched at the Collingwood vs Bulldog game on Friday night.
The Robert Rose foundation’s ‘Team 22’ campaign aims to raise awareness, as well as $500,000 towards equipment, car/house modification, one-on-one mental health care and sports participation opportunities for people with spinal injuries.
Robert Rose played for Collingwood and Footscray, before he was in a car accident at age 22 that left him a quadriplegic.
He and his father Bob Rose, Collingwood legend, both wore the number 22 – leading to the name.
Beau was 23 when he had his accident.
Although there were periods that Beau found it difficult to adjust he is appreciative to those around him and considers himself lucky for the support he receives.
Although a highly talented player, Beau had little experience coaching prior to his role at Leongatha in 2014, where he started as an assistant coach.
Through an enjoyment-focussed and dedicated work ethic, Beau coached them to grand finals in ’15, ’16 and going on to win against rivals against Maffra in ’17.
“Getting players to enjoy their footy is a big part of my coaching, anything you enjoy you will excel at,” says the coach.
“Building confidence and understanding that winning is sometimes the best encouragement.”
Beau’s happy to be coaching closer to his home in San Remo.
Coaching his home side Phillip Island to a premiership win in ’18 was a big feat that Beau strives to reach again this year.
“So-far this season we haven’t come up against any identifying challenges. We have a few changes from last year with young players like Billy Taylor, Brodie Anderson, Max Mattock, Connor Thompson and Daniel Bourke. It’s an exciting time,” said the coach prior to round three.
Beau also works at Wings for Life, Interact, headspace, is a motivational speaker and father of two.
He is a national youth ambassador for headspace and takes an active role in maintaining his own mental health.
“Everyone understands you need exercise to stay physically healthy, mental health is similar. Anyone has his or her own challenges, mentally we need to know what we can control and not allow negative thoughts to gain traction.”
Beau is passionate about sharing support that he has received with others, the ‘Team 22’ motivation is to allow other people with spinal cord injuries to participate in activities such as hand-cycling, surfing, golfing, fishing, kayaking and more.
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