If one had to describe in one word how powerful are April Holmes, Candace Cable and Karin Korb, the chosen word would probably be “smile”. At least, after watching the 3rd episode of SIGA WoW hosted by SIGA’s Global COO Katie Simmonds.
The Power of Paralympics was the starting point for another live conversation in which the registrations record was broken.
There is no doubt: the thought leadership WoW Show SIGA promotes every first Wednesday of the month on female empowerment are special. Thanks to our guests and thanks to the growing global audience that tune in from afar a field as Ireland, America, and South Africa to name a few..
The power of a smile is, probably, the power of the Paralympics.
With a smile these champions faced adversity and fought for inclusion. They shine a spotlight on breaking boundaries in sport.
“When I feel an obstacle is impeding my progress, I say to myself this is just another train. I went from train wrecks to a hospital bed and a podium in a couple of years. So, when I find an obstacle, I think to myself what train is now in your way? As I lay under that train, I thought, how could I keep my mind occupied and my heart beating? It’s all about figuring how to take the train out of your way” – April Holmes shared with the SIGA WoW audience after revealing that when on a hospital bed, a doctor brought magazines on Paralympics. “That saved my life”, she said.
April had just lost her left leg and thought about how to keep active in sports. We all know the rest of the story! She became three times Paralympian, world recordist, and won gold medals. After that, she became co-founder and CEO of the Hero-Hangout!
Embracing the change was the most potent achievement these three champions made in their lives. Candace Cable is nine-time Paralympian and won 8 gold medals from 12, both in Winter and Summer games! It all began when she was 21 and suffered a car crash. Known for saying everybody will be disabled, even if only by getting old, she sees it as an advantage.
It wasn’t easy. Of course not. But when Candace smiles, it’s easy to understand she is a winner in life. “I embraced change. When I was leaving Paralympic sport, I thought I was ready. After one and a half year I realised I was committed to the identity of being an athlete and that I needed help with that. So, I went to therapy and started to figure out new tools to redefine who I was. That was something I also did after my spinal cord injury. My focus is always on embracing the change, working with the flow of it and then educating myself”.
Setting an inclusion agenda is a goal in the life of these empowered women. Karin Korb didn’t even like tennis before . Just like Candace, who wouldn’t consider becoming an athlete. She broke her back at 17 y.o., during a gymnastics training session.
After that she competed in two Paralympic Games and played wheelchair tennis at the U.S. Open. She is now a member of SIGA Standing Committee on Gender, Race, Inclusion and Diversity in Sport, and a passionate advocate of feminism and inclusion:
“The consistency of my spiritual practice is the foundation of everything that I am and am not. That and recognising my community, the people who have brought me to this place. We talk about independence related to disability all the time. None of us is independent; we’re interdependent and have an arsenal of people around us that are constantly elevating us, giving us motivation and everything we need to be successful”.
Karin is an influencer. A really good one. An influencer for change and equality. She explains how to do it on day by day basis: “All the leadership needs core competencies on different types of disabilities. I keep a running file with resumes of people with disabilities, and when I’m asked about someone to perform specific tasks, it is easy for me to search for talents. I can go to my file and say X, Y, and Z have those competencies”.
There’s not much of a secret to all this. The effort to promote equal opportunities is huge and was deeply covered in this magical episode of SIGA WoW. Trying to capture it in one idea would take us to an experience April Holmes shared:
“At the end of the day, kids just want to play. Kids want to play with other kids. They don’t want to hear, ‘ok these kids have to go here and play with this and these kids have to go there to play with that’. In many instances, the parents are afraid to let them play because they endorsed so much in their lives. After a camp with disabled kids, some parents told me ‘I never thought my son could do this’ and I replied, ‘You never thought your kids could do it because you never let them… you were too busy trying to brace their faults. Sometimes we need to make adaptions, yes, but we can’t allow adaptions to come first”.
SIGA’s Global COO, Katie Simmonds summed it up: “Inclusion now! Now is the time to dismantle stigmas on disability, in sport and in society. Face your fears and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Get outside your own bias.” SIGA’s call to action is simple: “More opportunities for disabled people in sports governance leadership positions to ensure greater diversity of thought in the board room of sports organisations. This is enshrined in the ”
Looks easy when listening to this. But then, one looks at April Holmes, Candace Cable and Karin Korb and can’t do more than agree. And !
Final note: Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, SIGA’s global CEO, concluded that everyone must act to implement true inclusion and diversity in sports. “SIGA is doing its part. Not only with the efforts of the Standing Committee on Gender, Race, Inclusion and Diversity in Sport, but also through the implementation of our Universal Standards and the SIGA Independent Rating and Verification System (SIRVS). These are the real game-changing factors, and they are absolutely critical to bring about the much needed accountability to the whole sporting industry.
The SIRVS is an integral part of SIGA’s ecosystem to usher sport and the wider sporting industry into a new era of enhanced governance, integrity, transparency and accountability. The purpose of SIRVS is to assess and rate the sporting organisations’ level of implementation of and compliance with the SIGA Universal Standards. SIRVS is rigorous, impartial, objective and strictly independent. In order to ensure the highest impartiality and independence, SIGA appointed a third party to operate the system, with SIGA retaining overall supervision and strategic control.
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Next episode: Wednesday 4 August 2021, 16.00 UK Time
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