This week on the Honest Truth we were able to share wonderful stories of determination and courage. The highlights for me include chatting to Paralympic champion Monique Kalkman van den Bosch who was inducted into the Tennis Hall Of Fame last year. She shared with us that she thought her dream was lost when cancer took away the use of her legs. Yet, through love, and determination she rediscovered her passion for sport and went onto to achieve numerous gold medals at three Paralympic games. She is now an Ambassador for the Global Challenge which takes place in early November in Hermanus. The format is unique – the Northern Hemisphere take on their Southern Hemisphere counterparts with one disable golfer on each team. This sort of event and the underpinning spirit does work at changing perceptions around ability.
I am always amazed at, regardless of circumstances, how certain individuals are able to rise above what life throw at them. These individuals are driven by their sense of self and purpose.
This week I chatted to Chaeli Mycroft and her mom Zelda.
Chaeli is the young lady behind the Chaeli campaign. She is 23 years old and her life has been all about creating awareness around persons with disability and thereby changing society’s perception around ability!
Already Chaeli has summited Kilimanjaro, and has completed the Comrades marathon all in an attempt to show what is possible – and that ability is not confined to your body. In fact, Chaeli will also be completing her Masters degree soon too.
Her mom Zelda is the CEO of the campaign and spoke quite candidly of how difficult it is in fact to change perception.
Many people do not believe that Chaeli had for example summited Mount Kilimanjaro. These detractors only serve to spur on young Chaeli. Her next adventure will be happening at the end of the month where she will be riding a horse for 5 hours a day for 5 days!
Already her training has begun.
There will be a small break in training as Chaeli and her mom travel to Geneva to meet with the United Nations this month.
The reason behind the meeting is that the campaign is much more than adventure stunts. The bigger picture is about changing policy regarding access to education.
Why must children with disability not be included in mainstream education? Why do so few schools cater for children with special needs?
These children are being deprived of opportunity, and so called mainstream children are also deprived of the opportunity to expand their own understanding and tolerance of what ability is, and that ability can take many shapes and forms.
Chaeli and her mom will be heading to picturesque Switzerland to show the United Nations what can be achieved, and how education and schooling must include all children. It also links crucially to one of the UN’s Sustainable goals of not leaving any child behind. Let’s see what happens as a result of next week’s discussions. I am certainly very hopeful that change will come, perhaps not as quickly as we would want but already indications are there that we need to be so much more inclusive and tolerant if development is to be sustainable.
See all the details on the Chaeli Campaign website.