Elizabeth is a Paralympic medalist, Author, Speaker, and co-founder of schools programme Resilience Wellbeing Success. Passionate about developing self-belief in our young people, Elizabeth uses storytelling and interactivity to build a rapport with young people, engaging them with a sense of fun and humour. Her aim is to leave young people believing in their own potential and capabilities to achieve their goals - if she could do it, then anyone can.
It’s the beginning of 2017, the holidays are over, hangovers have dissipated, and let me guess, you have about a hundred New Year’s Resolutions sitting in the back of your brain. Or better yet, you have them written down in your brand new diary, like talismans of success signposted for the near future… but we have to be honest here, how many of these resolutions are you realistically going to achieve? I’m trying not to be a Debby Downer here, cause I am all about goals and goal journeys, achievement and success, but when you really think about the resolutions you make, year in and year out, how many do you actually make happen?
As Sir Anthony Seldon stood on the stage, he slipped his jacket down his arms, slid his shoes off and kicked them to the side, chatting away to the audience as though nothing was amiss… then, out of the blue, he flipped himself upside down, into a headstand, balancing solidly, still. “I think I’ll do the rest of the talk this way,” he said, humour in his tone. The great academic from Wellington College was doing a yoga move on the stage and the audience went nuts! Where was this great feat of physical and mental strength happening? At The IPEN (International Positive Education Network) Festival in Dallas, Texas.
The morning that I turned to Mum and Dad as a 13 year old and said, “I am going to swim at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games,” was the morning I made the most sure, concise, and driven decision of my life. My entire life. In that moment, as a freshly-minted teen, I knew what my purpose was going to be for the next several year, the confidence I had in this decision was overwhelming, and the determination I had to work hard for it inspiring. Yes, my teen self inspires me now, because that confidence and determination is special, and most people struggle to cultivate it, not least teenagers.
Sarah* was born with a congenital limb deficiency, meaning that her right arm was shortened slightly and she had all but two of her fingers missing on her right hand. Her parents loved her and wanted the best for her, and she was fortunate to have been born at a time where she could go to a mainstream Primary school with no problems... no problems other then being bullied and having no positive role models with disabilities like hers. With her self-confidence low and doubt about her future and what she could achieve, Sarah and her mum were scared about what the next few years would bring. Then one day her primary school bought in a visiting speaker.