16 March 2014, 12:00

Paralympian champions as new role models: if they could you can as well

Paralympian champions as new role models: if they could you can as well

When athletes reach the Paralympics, they are seen as not just champions but also as role models to all kinds of people. If they could train as hard as they did, then others can do it as well. It is very likely that past and present Paralympians will  pay it forward by helping others lose weight, gain confidence, and reach their goals in life.

New initiatives are appearing worldwide to assist in helping disabled people, perhaps even former Paralympians, shine by teaching others to be healthy through fitness instruction. One program making leaps and strides in the UK is a training course called InstructAbility. This course offers disabled individuals the chance to become fitness trainers for free, giving those who sign up 12 long weeks of experience in the field.

Already, there have been tons of success stories with this program. One individual, who has successfully completed the program, John Parfitt from Cobham, UK has been confined to a wheelchair ever since he was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury after a car accident. Though, once Parfitt got going with the InstructAbility program, created by a company called Aspire and YMCAfit, he went above and beyond success.

"I've learned about a variety of different things on offer for disabled gym users. InstructAbility has enabled me to gain more knowledge of different disabilities, whilst also taking this learning and applying it to my own fitness training methods," Parfitt said in an article on the English Federation of Disability Sport's website.

In the past, he actually represented Great Britain in two different sports categories. Wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby were his sports of choice and although his car accident was tragic, it did not stop him from achieving his dreams. "We are pleased to support career transition for injured service personnel. Many individuals with military experience are knowledgeable about physical fitness and possess good communication and leadership skills which make them ideal gym instructors," Hilary Farmiloe, InstructAbility Project Manager said on the English Federation of Disability Sport website.

The fitness instructor program is believed to be a success in the making with participants very willing to learn the ropes of instructional workouts to pass onto others. Besides InstructAbility's efforts, many former and present athletes are making a difference in society—all who can claim the title of being a Paralympian or having been one in the past.

Nick Scott, for instance, represented the US in the 2010 World Paralympic Dancesport Championship. Scott and his dance partner Aubree Machione competed in the Wheelchair Ballroom Dancing competition for the Paralympics back in the year 2010. He pays it forward by offering motivational tips to amateur athletes and is also a fitness trainer. "Part of the secret of my success is the ability to adapt certain exercises to meet my unique situation. It is not necessary to complete everything exactly as outlined to achieve success," Scott writes on the website, wheelchair-bodybuilding.com.

It was reported on in 2013 that three-time Paralympic gold medalist Nick Taylor is paying it forward. Taylor won his medals through hard work and determination, coming out on top in the Paralympic wheelchair tennis quad doubles. He is the volunteer director of operations for the Wichita State Men's Tennis team. By volunteering to help out the tennis team, he can give inspiring words of encouragement to the players.

Paralympians and wannabe Paralympic athletes are making tiny as well as profound differences in society. Every little bit counts and their stories help ignite the courage in others to give it their all to achieve their dreams, and never stop trying. Proper programs can help people with disabilities to become trainers and pass it forward. Everybody will just have to wait and see what the Paralympians participating in the Sochi Games will do to encourage others to get fit and follow their true calling.

Voice of Russia, Efds.co.uk, Wheelchair-bodybuilding.com

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