TONY Maroun was watching television one night when a commercial promoting a competition made him think of his classmate Matthew Engesser.
The 10-year-old has known about Matthew’s cerebral palsy since they were in kindergarten together, and has always admired how the disability has not stopped his friend from participating or including others in sport.
Tony told his mother Charlotte about the LiteracyPlanet competition, which recognises children in a variety of fields, and they agreed to nominate Matthew for the national award.
“He just tries everything and never gives up,” Tony said. “He always does his best.”
At St Paul the Apostle Primary School in Winston Hills last month, Matthew was presented with an award for finishing second in the sports category of the LiteracyPlanet Legends campaign, which celebrates kids’ achievements in and outside the classroom.
Matthew plays football for Baulkham Hills FC, does swimming and cross country, and always demonstrates good sportsmanship.
“It felt great,” the nine-year-old said. “For me, sport is about having a go, having fun and making new friends.”
It was a similar statement he told his peers about a cross country race he recently participated in with other children with a disability.
Matthew’s parents, Alison and Stephan, and his grandparents, visited the school to watch the ceremony.
Mrs Engesser said it meant a lot to the family to see Matthew recognised by his peers.
“He has so much support in the community,” she said.
“It took us by surprise, but it is great to know that his peers respect and support him.”
Mrs Maroun said it was an easy decision to nominate Matthew. “Tony told me that Matthew is not afraid to give things a go and always tries his best,” she said.
Tony told me that Matthew is not afraid to give things a go and always tries his best. If Tony can recognise that, it means Matthew is teaching my son that nothing is never too hard to try.Charlotte Maroun
“If Tony can recognise that, it means Matthew is teaching my son that nothing is never too hard to try.”
As part of the prize, the school received $1000 from LiteracyPlanet to spend on sports equipment.
Matthew said he would like to see the school buy footballs and pumps.