“determination, equality, inspiration, and courage” These are the values of the Paralympics and for those that have been watching the past week, the amazing athletes on show have certainly been demonstrating all of these!
What have been the standouts for you? Was it the determination shown by Madison de Rozario to bounce back from a disappointing 5000m on the weekend to WIN the 800m wheelchair race? Her determination and character allowed her to claim her first gold medal in the event after finishing with two silvers in the past.
Were you inspired by the ABILITY of Dan Michel to claim the first boccia medal for Australia in 25 years? Dan does not let the hurdles and barriers of being confined to a wheelchair due to his Spinal Muscular Atrophy condition slow him down. His inspirational quote of “much effort, much prosperity” seems simple enough when written on the page, but his actions show he lives his mantra and is an inspiration to us all.
I don’t know about you, but listening to the athletes and commentators throughout the Paralympics has me hearing the consistent term, athlete. What defines an athlete? According to the dictionary… a person who is proficient in Sports. Watching our athletes, run, swim, throw, shoot, roll or ride has had me in awe of their ability. It epitomises the term ‘equality’. I have heard many athletes mention how they want people to focus on ‘ability’, rather than ‘disability’, and that they want to encourage further participation in Sport by all Australians, able-bodied or not. Well, they are certainly incredible role models.
There are countless stories of courage amongst Paralympians. Many have lost limbs in accidents or war and used sport as a way to heal the physical and mental scars. I could only watch on, wide-eyed, as I saw a man swim in the 50m breaststroke with only one complete limb. I can’t imagine how much courage it would have taken him to learn to swim in the first place, and how many times he would have had to demonstrate courage to make it to the Olympics. Courage is everywhere you look during the Paralympics and I am humbled.
It is off the back of the stories of our Paralympic athletes that remind us of the benefits of sport and physical exercise. For many athletes, exercise and sport embody freedom, expression, healing, inclusivity, socialisation, and more. In Sport, we have been talking about the benefits of completing exercise to improve our physical and mental health whilst in lockdown. Aiming to complete 30-40 minutes a day can have a positive impact on how we feel and how we tackle the challenges of this time. We should all look to things that inspire and motivate us and I have been witness to that whilst watching the Paralympics. I believe that we can all apply the values of the Paralympics in our current daily lives and use the stories of our Australian athletes to get us off our devices and outside doing some physical activity and exercise.
Our students have been busy at home keeping themselves physically fit and active. From walking pets, scooter rides, basketball practice, cheerleading, bike riding, yoga, and more, our students have been completing challenges set by their teachers. This week our theme is the ‘Kurt Fearnley Challenge’. Students are encouraged to go for a bicycle ride, scooter, or skateboard, in the spirit of our local wheelchair marathon rider. In Secondary, students have the additional challenge of completing a marathon on wheels (as a class). By working together, they can make the 42k distance as a team. I look forward to sharing the results in the next bulletin. Students have also been individually completing the 1000 Point Challenge and it has been wonderful to see their engagement with the program in Primary and Secondary. Keep the activity logs and videos/images coming in!
A friendly reminder of the importance of encouraging our students to complete regular physical exercise. The physical benefits are secondary to the positive impact it can have on the mental health of children during this time. The best way to encourage your child? Join them!
College Sport Coordinator & Year 5 Teacher