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Athletes inspire local youth to dream big

Published on Wednesday, 8 March 2023 at 9:53:53 AM

The City of Albany and Rio Tinto are bringing two inspirational speakers to the Great Southern that will motivate, encourage and educate young people across the region.

World champion para-canoeist Ben Sainsbury will visit students from eight primary schools to speak about disability awareness, mental health, self-development, overcoming adversity and resilience.

At 17 years-old, Mr Sainsbury’s life changed dramatically during a motocross crash which left him as a paraplegic. The road to him becoming a world champion athlete since then is one of inspirational mental and physical resilience.

Mr Sainsbury said he is passionate about sharing his story.

“I am driven to be a role model, to help motivate others to be better within themselves and give them my personal experiences to help them deal with things they may face in life,” he said.

“Our own mental health is so important, and if the young people listening to my talk can take away a coping skill that changes their life, then I am over the moon.”

The City has also partnered with Rio Tinto to bring former world champion kickboxer Chris Collard to schools across the region.

Mr Collard had a tumultuous childhood that sent him in and out of juvenile detention and ultimately behind bars at the age of 18. In an effort to stop repeating the adverse behaviours of those around him, he moved away from his family and friends to pursue kick boxing.

The 2021 documentary ‘Aboriginal Warrior’ tells how Mr Collard turned his life around from being behind bars to being in the ring.

Mr Collard said taking his story to the regions was crucial to supporting young people everywhere.

“We all face adversity at some points in our life. How we cope and manage these times is important to how we find a way out of them,” he said.

“I hope my talks and workshops give young people a reason to fight for a better future and the tools to become a resilient adult as they continue to grow, wherever they are.”

Both men will be visiting schools in the Great Southern from 7 March to 17 March.

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