In the often-overlooked corners of society, where disabilities cast long shadows, an unexpected beacon of hope emerges. His name is Chris Higgins, founder of OpentraX, a trailblazer on a mission to challenge stereotypes, break barriers, and redefine how we perceive and interact with the world of disability.
“Life may seem difficult for people living with disabilities,” Chris begins, his voice imbued with conviction. “Each passing day is just a day, no joy, no laughter. But at OpentraX, we believe that disability doesn’t disqualify you from deserving a beautiful life. We believe in ability.”
His journey began decades ago, in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, where his 18-month-old sister, Claire, contracted meningococcal disease. The illness left her with severe brain damage, robbing her of the ability to talk, walk, or perform the simplest tasks we take for granted every day. Yet, it was Claire’s spirit, her ability to find joy amid adversity, that left an indelible imprint on Chris.
Fueled by his sister’s resilience, Chris embarked on a quest to change the narrative around disability. OpentraX is the culmination of his years of dedication – a program uniquely designed to bring adventure and outdoor education closer to Australians of all abilities.
Drawing from his background as a physiologist, Chris recognizes the therapeutic potential of nature. He developed OpentraX to incorporate elements of outdoor adventure education and allied health, creating a holistic approach to therapy that has proven to be life-changing for participants.
Parents and participants alike rave about OpentraX. “Before my son joined OpentraX, he was introverted and struggled with social interactions,” says Emily, a parent. “Now, he’s more confident and his anxiety levels have drastically decreased. I couldn’t be happier with his progress.”
Testimonials like Emily’s are not uncommon. Another parent, Greg, shares, “OpentraX has been transformative for our daughter. We’ve seen a huge improvement in her mobility, but more importantly, she’s happier. Seeing her smile as she completes each adventure… it’s priceless.”
It’s not just the parents who see the changes; the participants feel it too. “OpentraX is fun, and I’ve made lots of friends. I’ve also learned that I can do more than I thought,” says Sarah, a participant.
From Skill TraX which teaches actual mountain biking skills to Social TraX which builds social connections among participants, the programs at OpentraX are as diverse as the participants they serve. Pokè-TraX, one of the unique programs, even utilises the ‘Pokemon Go’ game to get people outdoors and active while still enjoying their favourite game.
However, Chris’s mission extends beyond just those directly benefiting from the program. By providing inclusive outdoor adventure experiences, he is challenging societal assumptions and breaking down barriers. OpentraX is contributing to a shift in our collective consciousness, encouraging us all to see beyond the disability to the person and their capabilities.
Despite the challenges and heartaches that have marked his journey, Chris remains steadfast in his commitment to this cause. His resilience and determination serve as a beacon of hope to those navigating similar paths.
The legacy of Chris and his sister Claire lives on in the form of OpentraX. It doesn’t just shatter illusions of disability; it rebuilds them into a mosaic of abilities, possibilities, and endless potential. As Chris often says, “The tracks of life are open to everyone. Let’s explore them together.”
Join Chris and the OpentraX community in creating a world where everyone can find their track and uncover their true ability. An invitation we should all consider accepting, as we acknowledge the power of ability over disability and the life-changing possibilities that emerge from embracing diversity.