With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics now done and dusted, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably suffering from the post Olympics blues. After 16 days of watching as much sport as you could ever want, the highs and the lows, the medals, the triumphs and the agonising despair, it’s easy to feel a bit down. You might be thinking it’s another 3 years before you get to watch some of the greatest athletes in the world compete, but that’s where you may be in for a great surprise.
Next Tuesday the 26th August, the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics start and while there is no doubt there were some incredible athletes at the Olympics, you might find yourself adding new names to your list of sporting idols. If you have never seen the Paralympics then you are in for a treat. Those who compete at the Paralympics are not only incredible athletes in their own right, each has a storied journey of persevering to overcome obstacles that the average able bodied athlete may never experience.
As an abled body athlete, I know how fortunate I am to be able to not only have the physical capacity to play any sport I wish, but also to have access to an abundance of options as to what sport I play and where I play it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for athletes with a disability, or as we like to call it at NEXA, a “Superhuman Ability!” We often take for granted that we can run, jump, throw, swim, ride or do whatever we want to do, however that is not the case for everyone. Some individuals have had these barriers since birth, others like our own Daniel Kirk, have had to adapt after a life changing moment. After learning about Dan’s story, I’ve discovered the many struggles he has had to face and perhaps more importantly how he has been able to adapt.
The Paralympics are a chance to celebrate the differences in our world and for these hard working athletes to show just how incredible they really are. The world is made up of people of all different walks of life, we are all physically different, yet we are all so similar. I encourage you to watch the games with your families, with your children and educate yourself around inclusion, adaptability and strength of character. You will hear many moving stories, see some humbling acts of sportsmanship and bear witness to the incredible feats of human endeavour that only adversity can reveal about our human potential. Imagine our children growing up in a world where someone with a disability isn't treated differently because of the way they look or what they are assumed to be capable or incapable of. Each person in the world, disability or not, deserves the opportunity to be valued for who they are and how they treat others, rather than bearing the mark of someone else's judgment.
Before the Paralympics start next week, there is one thing that I highly recommend doing and that’s to watch the Netflix documentary ‘Rising Phoenix’. This documentary goes deep into the stories of a number of para athletes and what they have had to overcome to get to where they are today. I was simply blown away by all of the athletes and it gave me a new sense of admiration for what we are capable of as humans. Hearing the stories of discrimination, exclusion, segregation and trauma that many of these athletes have had to endure and move beyond, has revealed to me just how much value this Paralympic movement delivers.
These athletes demonstrate what is truly possible when we decide that nothing can stand in our way. Many of us have at some time used the barriers we are confronted with as reasons to why we cannot achieve success. Yet there are some people out there who choose to see barriers as a welcome challenge to continue to break through and find new opportunities to succeed. We are fortunate to have many individuals in our inclusive programs at NEXA and what I have learnt from our athletes is that we are capable of so much more than what we initially believe when we are willing to open ourselves up, be vulnerable and take risks.
This is why we have developed our NEXA Superhumans Program which is about dismantling the barriers placed upon us and creating opportunities to those who may not have experienced it before. It’s about creating a community of individuals who can connect over and celebrate each other's uniqueness, while simultaneously acknowledging that we are all united by our common threads. It’s about assisting people with “Superhuman Abilities” to discover their talents and show that they are competent of far more than they may have believed.
If you wish to find out more about our Superhumans Program click HERE. You can also use your NDIS funding for the program.