Gymnast finds right balance with help

Gymnast and Mount Lawley Senior High School student Vanessa Vlajkovic (16) with her coach Michelle Ranieri. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d415103
Gymnast and Mount Lawley Senior High School student Vanessa Vlajkovic (16) with her coach Michelle Ranieri. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d415103

Six years later, at the age of eight, her beautiful child, Vanessa, who is now 16, was diagnosed with hearing loss.

Despite her challenges, Vanessa chose physical education as part of her Year 11 studies at Mount Lawley high school and became involved in gymnastics.

She practises once a week, at Star-mites Gym Sports in Bayswater, with 25-year-old coach and Auslan (Australian Sign Language) interpreter Michelle Ranieri.

Ms Ranieri, from Westminster, has been involved in the sport for more than 20 years and has coached several students with disabilities and uses Auslan as well as spoken English to communicate with Vanessa.

‘I do a lot of demonstrating and hands-on work until she feels confident to try the skill on her own,’ Ms Ranieri said.

‘Vanessa did not just launch into it, she had her hesitations and her confidence was built by taking small steps.’

Vanessa who communicated with the Community Newspaper Group using a combination of spoken English and Auslan through Ms Ranieri, said practising gymnastics did not scare her most of the time.

‘I just forget my fears because it is just something I do without thinking’