Living life to the full

Living life to the full
Brendan Rees

Anthony Bartl has never let his physical limitations hold him back from living life to the fullest, and he wants to send the same message to others who have a disability.

The Kensington resident was only six years old when his life changed forever.

He had been walking home from school when he was struck by a car while crossing Macaulay Rd, Kensington, without looking. It left him with a C1 quadriplegia – the highest-level spinal injury.

But it has not stopped Mr Bartl, 43, to prove that with a positive mindset and determination, anything is possible.

He is the first person in Australia with his condition to complete primary and secondary school, and obtain a university degree, which he completed in media studies.

Today he is a part-time primary school teacher at Princes Hill Primary School, a writer, and a journalist.

He has published many articles, including writing a chapter about his life experiences in a book titled Turning Points. Published by Monash University Publishing in 2022, the book tells of 25 remarkable Australians and the moments that changed their lives.

But Mr Bartl’s biggest feat yet is having created a documentary, which chronicled his travels through Africa in 2013.

The 55-minute documentary called Unwheel Adventures was launched in 2015 after it was screened at Crown Casino’s Village Cinemas, which was organised by Eddie McGuire.

But in further exciting news it was featured on SBS in December last year and is available for viewing for the next three years on SBS On Demand.

Mr Bartl said he lucky enough to win $50,000 on the TV game show, Hot Seat, which was able to fund his Africa trip. A further $50,000 was provided by the Pratt Family Foundation to help fund the film crew.

The documentary captures Mr Bartl on a safari tour, going on a river cruise infested with crocodiles, and visiting local communities. However, the journey wasn’t without its setbacks.

“The bush mechanics came out each day the chair broke down, and on site they diligently went about fixing it,” he said. “Having a disability overseas is a real unknown but I was fortunate the people were so welcoming and supportive and outgoing.”

During his travels, he also visited a special school dedicated to kids with disabilities, who were sadly deemed “cursed by their ancestors” due to cultural beliefs of witchcraft in South Africa.

He said he “really wanted to send them a message of hope” that children could achieve their life aspirations.

Mr Bartl said having his documentary played on a mainstream channel was a “real accomplishment” and “lot of people can benefit from its message”.

“I try to live life to the full and I try to make the most of every day.” •

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