Our “In the lounge with…” series kicked off last week marking what would have been the first week of the Tokyo 2020 summer Paralympics.

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Team GB’s Para-athletes Olivia Breen and Millie Knight joined SeeAbility trustee Deborah Hale MBE who shared their stories and personal experience of the Paralympic games. This exclusive online event showcased the unlimited possibilities that people with disabilities can unlock when opportunities are taken and when you believe in someone.

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Paralympian and T38 World long jump champion, Olivia Breen said:

Sport has changed my life completely. It has given me so much confidence, independence and self-belief as well. After coming 12th in Rio (and) moving to a new coach I became a World Champion in 2017 for Long Jump. It’s just amazing what a difference a different coach can do and what you can do for yourself because you never know unless you try.

These two inspirational para-athletes shared how it was their self-belief and the support of their families and coaches that helped them to break the barriers that people with disabilities often face to succeed and win medals for their country.

Paralympic skier Millie Knight who lost majority of her sight by the age of 6 shared:

People often ask, if you could have your sight back tomorrow, would you? Absolutely not. My life is far greater with the experiences and opportunities that I have gained through having rubbish eyesight and I am so grateful for that.

Deborah Hale was awarded an MBE for her organisation of the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays in London 2012. As a SeeAbility trustee she is determined that society rethinks disability.

When questioned why it was taking time for wider society to be more inclusive, she said:

I think change is difficult for people in general. Sometimes positive change is even harder to instigate, I would say that one of the inspiring things that has come out of this difficult time is our innate adaptability. … I do think that there is hope moving forward. I think having a conversation continually is a really important thing; to keep talking, to keep listening and frankly to keep on hearing stories like Millie’s and Olivia’s.

Attendees applauded the speakers for their positivity and winning attitude. One attendee commented “Amazing stories, so uplifting and showing such resilience. Thank you for sharing!!”

Concluding the event, Desiree D’Souza, Executive Director of Innovation and Social Impact at SeeAbility added:

What I am taking from this is, nothing comes easy. You guys inspire yourselves and your achievements are wonderful and amazing. Like me, I am sure everyone out there will be following your continued success and will be rooting for you next year.

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Hear their stories - catch up with our Paralympians webinar below:

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