Spinal Muscular Atrophy isn’t stopping me from succeeding

By Tait Jenkins, 10 May 2016 , Comments

Throughout my life I have continually endeavoured to achieve anything I set my mind on, regardless of any limiting factors or obstacles I encounter during my journey.

When I was 18 months old I was diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Type II, a severe and life threatening neurological condition affecting the motor neurons.

As a result I am permanently wheelchair bound and require assistance on a daily basis for most common tasks such as getting out of bed or making lunch.

Even though my disability limits many aspects of my life and is often a barrier to attaining independence, I have set upon a journey to prove everyone, including myself, that I can achieve greatness in my career and leave a memorable impact on the people I encounter.

At the age of 14 I was scouted as a potential high performance athlete in the Paralympic sport Boccia.

Since then I have attended five state level competitions, three national championship and four international competitions.

I have accumulated five gold, two silver and three bronze medals. I have also achieved numerous top 10 results too.

A photo of Tait Jenkins with his Ramp assistant/coach/trainer/room-mate Reece from last year in Colombia at the Americas World Boccia Open

More importantly, my time representing Australia has helped me grow significantly and allowed me to meet some truly inspiring people.

Furthermore Boccia has taught me numerous key life skills, from team work to performing at peak levels in high stress situations, which helps me with my studies and volunteer work.

Although Boccia has consumed much of my time during the past five years, I still aspire to have a successful accounting career.

Ever since I was at high school I have always found business, in particular finance, to be interesting.

With my mind set on accounting I was fortunate enough to be offered a place at Macquarie University, a well-regarded and successful institution. There I am now studying to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce – Professional Accounting.

Since then I have moved from the Far North Coast to Sydney to facilitate my studies alongside the assistance of regular care workers. This has allowed me to complete my first year of study.

I have also further expanded my knowledge by volunteering at Boccia NSW as Assistant Treasurer in preparation for taking over as Treasurer in the future.

Even though this position is unpaid, I take great satisfaction giving back to the community that stands as a platform for aspiring athletes such as myself to grow and perform.

I hope to break out of the stereotypes society places upon disadvantaged people such as myself and inspire people to reach their potential regardless of any difficulties imposed upon them.

Tait Jenkins with his parents

In my future I hope to continue performing in the sport of Boccia and further represent my country leading up to a position in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

During that time I also hope to complete my degree in accounting and acquire a position in a small to medium sized firm where I can gain experience in a multitude of areas in accounting.

I also aspire to complete my chartered accounting certification and a Masters to advance my knowledge and facilitate working as an accountant internationally.

I hope that one day I will also be in a position of public speaking to help inspire people through my actions and words to achieve their best and work around any obstacles they face throughout the trials of life.

*Tait Jenkins recently received a Gregory and Dolores Farrell Scholarship from the Spine Care Foundation, a division of Northcott.

A photo of Tait Jenkins with his mother


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