Breaking down barriers

Lawson Greenway, 11, was recently awarded his second silver medal for jiu jitsu. Supplied photo.

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Despite having impaired vision, eleven-year-old Lawson Greenway is defying all odds.

As a baby he was declared as legally blind, but that isn't slowing him down any time soon.

In a conversation with Lawson, he confidently rattles off a long list of his current hobbies, including swimming, drumming, cycling, wakeboarding and seabiscuiting – just to name a few.

As of recently he was also awarded his second silver medal for jiu jitsu, at a Baywide Open Tournament.

“I've got two stripes which means I've been to about 50 lessons,” says Lawson.

“I'm basically blind, I can see a little colour but no braille. I lost vision out of one eye when I was a baby.

“I could see large print unti I was about seven then it slowly started getting worst. Now I have a cane and use braille, but it's still fun.

He says he doesn't let his vision hold him back from what he loves best.

“It's not affected me too much,” he says. “Having to learn braille, which is basically another language has been a bit hard, I've had a few bad moments and some good.

“Jiu jitsu is basically a feeling sport and swimming is much the same, they tap me on the head once for tumble turns or when I'm coming to the end.

“Drumming is something I just learnt, I go to lessons every Monday.”

Adding to a long list of talents, Lawson also is a self-proclaimed Peter Jackson in the making.

“I make movies on a program called iMovie, through different programs we can also add a lot of affects for action movies or if we want super powers.

“We think of an idea and bring it all together, sometimes I film and sometimes I'm the actor.”

His mother, Sharon Greenway says he is an inspiration for all to aspire to.

“I think it's great that he can have a great life whether he can see or not.

“Jiu jitsu has been pretty intense, in the last competition he was up against a boy who was a lot older than him but it was great for building confidence.

“A lot of what he does breaks down barriers, people think things like ‘a blind person can't make movies' but he does, he's doing it and it's so inspirational.

“It gives hope for other people who have vision impairment as well as giving hope to their parents and family too.”

She says their family's journey has not always been a smooth ride.

“When you hear that first diagnosis, it's heartbreaking,” she says. “We're fortunate in that Lawson somewhat has what we call visual memory.

“When he was a baby it was heartbreaking, we were told that he was legally blind right from the beginning.

“He had quite a bit of sight in what we call his ‘good eye', he could read large print and got around. You probably wouldn't have known he was visually impaired.

“When his vision started going and we were told, that was the hardest part. You can't prepare anyone for that, you just have to do the journey.

“A lot of it depends on what you focus on, if you focus on what you can't do you just go downhill. If you focus on what you can do and what's in your sphere of control there's a little hope.”

Sharon says the family have a strong faith, which has been instrumental in Lawson's journey.

“We actually read Lawson a lot of passages from Nick Vujicic, he's really inspirational.”

“Lawson is an amazingly positive kid and he loves life. He's positive, passionate, looks to the future and he perseveres.

“Every day he has to go out and accomplish things we couldn't even imagine.

“He can recognize the things that are momentary troubles, if they are dealt with in the right way, are achieving in us skills that in the future that will allow us to pull through them.

“We teach him that when he is sad, it is okay, grief is a natural part of life and it is in those moments that you should ask for support and not be ashamed of it.

“He's living life to the full and he's a challenge and inspiration to us all.”



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The moon peeping through the clouds at Pillans Point. Photo: Mike Berry.

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