BROTHERS Fletcher and Spencer Connelly are two extraordinary boys trying to lead an ordinary life.
Spencer, 9, loves soccer — his favourite team is Barcelona and his favourite player is Lionel Messi — while Fletcher, 13, can’t get enough of cricket.
The boys clearly share a love of sport. But there was a time just a few years ago when their ability to catch, run and play was a distant hope as they tried to overcome the trauma of severe burns
Four years ago, the brothers from the state’s North-West were involved in a shocking car fire in which they suffered severe burns over their bodies.
It has been a long, difficult road to treat their injuries and integrate back into their community. That they have been able to is a source of pride, and strength, to their family and friends.
“They seem to be quite comfortable in life, and they seem to cope with looking a little bit different to other children, it doesn’t seem to be a worry to them,” the boys’ grandmother Jeannette Lander told the Sunday Tasmanian.
This weekend, Fletcher and Spencer are attending Tango Camp, where they mix with other children from around Australia who have also experienced serious trauma.
The camps are held a few times each year around the country by the KIDS Foundation, which focuses on injury prevention and recovery.
Managing director and founder Susie O’Neill said the camps were a chance for the children to see that they were not alone in their struggles.
“They meet other children, and there’s usually someone in a very similar circumstance [to their own],” she said.
Spencer loves “going to places and meeting everybody” at the camps, which the boys have been attending since 2013. Fletcher enjoys group activities such as “going to the beach” or travelling “somewhere in the bus”.
Fletcher has just started high school and while that can be a nerve-racking time for many young people, he said he was not nervous because he was making the transition with lots of friends.
Fletcher’s grandfather Bill Lander said the camps had done wonders for the boys’ confidence, with his previously shy grandson taking on leadership roles in sport, and as a student councillor in his last year of primary school.
Volunteer buddy Shavi Gajaweera, from Victoria, has been paired with Spencer at the camp. “He has a lot of energy … I was having my lunch and he gave me ‘one more minute’ to finish my lunch before we got back to the cricket,” he said.
Article by SHAUN McMANUS themercury.com.au See the story online at The Mercury

Sunday, February 26, 2017

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