12 March, 2024

Paralympians inspire students

St Pauls Lutheran Primary School (SPLPS) had a fun, informative and educational day on Wednesday (March 6), having three Paralympic athletes attend the school to teach about disabilities and inclusion.

Students got to see and hold Monique's silver medal.
Students got to see and hold Monique's silver medal.

Ella Sabljak, Monique Murphy and Blake Cochrane gave Year 5 and 6 students a first-hand look of what disabilities can look like and how people can live and thrive with them.

Monique was the guest speaker, sharing the story of how she had her foot amputated at age 20 and proceeded to become a Paralympic silver medallist swimmer just two years later, in Rio.

Following her presentation, Paralympic wheelchair rugby player Ella took the kids to the courts, getting them to experience playing a sport with a disability, having them wear eye masks and play goalball.

SPLPS sports teacher Kathryn Mueller organised the entire event as a way of making the curriculum topic of ‘inclusion’ more tangible for the little ones.

“I had the idea of making the topic of ‘inclusion’ more practical, so we had the kids design activities that they normally do and make them different to be more inclusive”, Kathryn said.

“We also got wheelchairs and tested them around the school to see how inclusive and accessible it is, which was actually so much harder than we thought.

“Since it’s an Olympic and Paralympic year, it seemed to make sense to incorporate that.”

During the presentation, Monique and Ella reminded everyone (kids and adults) that the Brisbane 2032 Olympics are not alone, with the Brisbane 2032 Paralympics also existing.

“Whenever you hear someone talk about the Brisbane Olympics, remind them the Paralympics are also happening,” Ella said.

“So cheer for those athletes and watch them, as much as you do for the Olympic athletes, because they work just as hard.”

The athletes also encouraged the students to send letters and pictures to the Paris 2024 competitors once they’re overseas, as part of the Paralympic Pen Pal and Paralympic Village Art initiative.

The students had a chance to see and touch Monique’s silver medal, get autographs and be the stars of a new training video.

The video is a joint project of Paralympics Australia, Dylan Alcott’s Get Skilled Access foundation, and the Sport4All government program, with multi-gold Paralympic medallist swimmer Blake Cochrane representing Sport4All at the event.


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