Posts Tagged "Paralympian"


Right mindset the key to pushing past physical disabilities, Paralympian says | CBC News

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The journey to becoming a top Paralympic swimmer started when Stephanie Dixon saw herself in someone she admired. 

Dixon was born with one leg and wore a prosthetic. As a child, she struggled to identify with people in positions of power or influence. But there was one day each year where anything felt possible.

“On the Terry Fox run every September, I was the cool kid who ran just like Terry Fox,” she told CBC’s The Early Edition. 

“As a child with a disability it was hard to feel cool and like I fit in. So on that one day every single year, I got to be just like my hero, Terry Fox.”

The 19-time Paralympic medallist is Canada’s chef de mission for the 2020 Paralympic Games. She is also a health and wellness coach for the third season of Mind Set Go, a documentary series that shows the journey of how Canadians living with disabilities, injuries or chronic pain reach their goals for a healthier future.

As a Paralympian, she’s become a role model for the show’s participants, showing them how much they can accomplish with the right mindset. 

Stephanie Dixon won seven gold medals during her Paralympic swimming career. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

One participant acquired her disability later in life, after having two strokes. It changed her life dramatically, but she wanted to maintain her independence and be able to keep up with her grandkids. Dixon said it was inspiring to see her gain confidence throughout the course of the show. 

“There’s some physical challenges that they all face, but even more so than that was challenges in their mindset,” Dixon said.

“Things that were holding them back from just beliefs about ourselves and what we can accomplish.”

Dixon said she believes shows like Mind Set Go show just how much the human body can accomplish when people believe they are capable. 

“We all need role models, but most importantly role models that we identify with,” she said.

It’s also making Canada more inclusive and connected by helping viewers understand the challenges — and capabilities — of people with disabilities,” she added. 

She said she’s seen positive change within society throughout her lifetime in how people with disabilities are understood and accepted.

She said it is an honour to represent Canadian Paralympians this summer.

“We are becoming much more accessible physically, inclusive from an emotional and community standpoint,” she said.

“I do feel like a valued, appreciated, heard and seen member of society and I have a visible disability … we are making progress.”


Paralympian sees Sun Run as way to help youth build community

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Paralympian Emily Young will be leading the Classroom Champions youth team for the 2020 Vancouver Sun Run.


Paralympian Emily Young remembers the exact day when she realized she would have to give up her beloved sport of wrestling due to injury.

“I was absolutely terrified,” said the 29-year-old Kelowna resident of the “true reality check” she faced. “I was going to be leaving something that I knew so well, like the back of my hand, and had to take a risk and try something new, and I had no idea how it was going to go.”

In 2009, Young dislocated her right elbow and injured her right shoulder, just before the Canada Games. The injury damaged her ulnar nerve from her neck to her fingers and over time, the nerve injury degraded, locking her right elbow and restricting her ability to straighten her arm.

Several rounds of surgery eventually put Young on a challenging road that ultimately would not bring her back to the wrestling mat.

“There was a lot of soul searching. I was lucky to have grown up with so much sport community in my life, that I had to come to a realization that … I wasn’t going to be defined by an injury,” Young told Postmedia about having to leave behind high-level international wrestling.

“But I was going to take all my experiences from sport in general and find another open door that I could direct my energy towards.”

And she certainly has. These days, Young competes in para nordic skiing — and has collected a few Paralympic medals to boot — and has channeled her experiences into inspiring Canadian youth as part of the Classroom Champions program.

The program pairs elite athletes with classrooms across Canada as mentors, using their personal experiences to guide students in discussing healthy living, community and personal development.

The 2019 Sun Run and Shaw Mini Sun Run is pictured.

Robert Shaer /


This spring, Young will serve as the elite athlete ambassador, running alongside a group of about 50 Classroom Champions youth, in the 2020 Vancouver Sun Run, in the Shaw Mini 2.5-kilometre Sun Run division. It’s an experience Young looks forward to, having enjoyed the experience once upon a time as a child herself.

When asked about advice for youth runners participating in the Sun Run — which is daunting for many adults, let alone youth participating for the first time — Young reiterated the importance of relying on one’s community and pushing forward with commitment.

“When I got offered the opportunity to ski, there was a kind of fork in the road where I had to 100 per cent commit to it to be successful and go as far as I have been able to go — or be stuck in this little whirlpool of surgeries and self-pity,” said Young.

“It’s terrifying, but the risk came with such big benefit, not only with Paralympic medals but also with relationships and personal growth.”

While the Sun Run can be an overwhelming day, with thousands of people running through the streets of Vancouver, Young encouraged youth teams and participants to enjoy the day and rely on community to help them get to the finish line.

“At the end of it, it’s such a cool experience and you meet such good people,” said Young. “There’ll be a lot of people who will see a lot of personal growth but also lots of friendships grow out of it as well.”

The final deadline to register a youth team for the Vancouver Sun Run is March 13, 2020. For more information, visit

Paralympian Emily Young, 29, is pictured competing in Para nordic skiing.



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