Olympic Changemaker National Summit

Year 11 student, Harris Henderson, recently attended the Australia Olympic Changemaker National Summit, and here is a reflection of his time there.

Year 11 student, Harris Henderson, recently attended the Australia Olympic Changemaker National Summit, and here is a reflection of his time there.

Last year I had the privilege of attending the Australian Olympic Changemaker National Summit. The program ran from 5 to 8 December and was held at the AIS. Aside from the dozens of emails sent about itinerary and the facilitators, all of the changemakers were left in the dark about what was actually happening at the Summit. During the Summit, we participated in team building activities, such as the cone snatching game from the Man Cave that the Year 11s would remember from last year, in which I managed to beat Olympic swimmer Mac Horton in the first round and then I went out straight away. Besides the team building and establishing friendships, our main aim at the Summit was to come up with three ideas that could be used at the Brisbane Olympic Games that would have a positive impact. The four categories for these ideas were social inclusion, rural and remote, benefits of sport, and sustainability, with each group having an Olympic athlete as a mentor. After a day and a half of planning and discussing our ideas in our groups, it was finally time to present in front of all of the groups, a few parliament members, and the CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee, Matt Carroll. The experience of presenting my ideas inside Parliament House was a once in life time opportunity, with not a moment being taken for granted. At the end of the presentation, we each received our medallion made by the Royal Australian Mint. The presentation, team building with Olympians, sharing stories, receiving a shiny circle and beating an Olympian were all great, but the Summit was much more than that.

There were dozens of takeaways from the Summit, but some of the most notable things didn’t come from the Olympians, it came from the people like you and me. Teenagers that live extremely connected lives, however we face problems on our own. Hearing the other changemakers’ stories from where they come from and what they have been through inspired me greatly. Olympic swimmer, Brooke Hanson, gave us this quote during the Summit, “Do it, don’t quit”, and I realised every single one of those changemakers had lived by that quote. Everyone there had a strong passion for something, and no matter what happened they kept chasing and following that dream. Everyone faces problems, and everyone faces them differently, no person’s problem is too small. Another lesson I learnt while at the Summit, is to just open your mouth and start a conversation, although it’s known that I love to talk a lot, I do tend to shut down when it comes to new people. I realised that I’ll never have this opportunity again so I might as well talk, and within the space of three days, it seemed like all of us had known each other for years. I didn’t expect that to be the outcome. With all of us staying in contact with each other after the Summit, it just shows that if you go out there and start that conversation with someone, you might just find a few good friends along the way.

The last thing I’ll leave you with is a message that changemaker Daniel said during the sharing circle and it goes something like this: “I used to hate the world and life, everyone treated me poorly due to my living situation and the way I look. All I wanted to do was let my hate and anger out. But I realised that there is no reward in putting others down so you can climb to the top and feel popular or cool, but eventually you will fall further than where you started from. Don’t build your life based on spreading hate and lies, build it on the strongest foundation, kindness. Give that random person a smile, say hi to that elderly person you always walk past, tell your mates that you value them or that their outfit looks sick. Because at the end of the day, we only know so much about people’s lives, and they could be feeling the same way I did, that the world hates them and they hate it back, but if you have the courage to show a bit of kindness, you could be the one that gives them the courage to be kind”.

Harris Henderson, Year 11