Personal Reflection – a letter to my 19 year old self
Greetings Al… OK, so the car crash was not the best moment in life but it is good to see that you are back at university for the second year of your degree.
I want to acknowledge the way you will deal with this. Your survival mode will continue for a few more years so hang in there. This is really what life is about, and no, you don’t know all of the answers yet, however while growing up, you will magically acquire resources and skills to work things out so be kind to yourself. It is called experience and can only be gained over time.
The Bachelor of Education is definitely a good choice career-wise, although you don’t feel that way right now. I still regret not fighting for continued involvement in the physical education side of the course, same as you are feeling right now. The university lecturers didn’t have the means or understanding, and you have no idea. I love that this is no longer the case and todays’ graduates with disabilities show everyone how it is done.
Your own sporting adventures are ahead of you with wheelchair basketball on the horizon. I know you will enjoy them.
So the combination of a major stack, sport and education mixed together will result in defining your world.
I know it seems weird now, but your story will help other people. The lessons you will learn about how to get involved in sport, what it looked like, and where it could take you will be huge and you will love sharing the possibilities and opportunities with other people. Just a note, don’t let the emotions get to you and hold it together in front of Olympian, Natalie Cook when learning how to write a speech. Stay cool and enjoy the moment.
Jump with both hands when offered to be part of the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association Disability Education Program (DEP) in 1999. What a fantastic team of people you will work with across Australia that links to adventures in East Timor and Canada.
Speaking simply, everyone should be able to access sport. Being introduced to the Disability Education Program was the key to understanding how this can be achieved. This started the love of meeting people, sharing ideas and brainstorming solutions. I still love being a part of the team today.
I still get a huge kick out of seeing the moment of freedom and pure joy participants get out of trying something new and the realisation that new possibilities are available. I also love seeing the parents get this as well.
Make sure you also get involved with the JDP Camps (JDP is the Junior Development Program). These are super. I cherish seeing those athletes, some who are super scared of staying overnight, some are so cheeky but they will grow up into fine young adults. Many have continued to work hard and represent Australia but the greatest thing is that all are fantastic advocates and active participants in wherever life has taken them.
Today I am back into the education world loving the opportunity to tap into school sport again from the inside. Such an important starting point to help young students and their families get involved. It is still a message required to share with exciting increased avenues and opportunities.
Enjoy the adventures, which I know you will. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Back yourself and go for it a few more times. Beg forgiveness if required. You might be surprised how few times forgiveness is required and just how wonderful things can be.
Yours in sport, Al xxx