Australia

Students challenged to adopt Invictus Games values

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Students attending Invictus Games events are being challenged to consider what life is like for injured, wounded and ill veterans.

Students are getting a close look at what life is like for wounded, injured and ill service personnel as they attend Invictus Games events in Sydney.

The experience, which has been designed by the New South Wales department of education, features hands-on activities related to disability and adaptive sports.

"Every one of these students, in their own life, is going to experience real and practical challenges, they are going to need to be resilient, they're going to need to have a growth mindset to take on challenges, and overcome them," Mark Scott, the NSW Education Department secretary, told SBS News.

"I think the Invictus Games gives them some insight and encouragement around that as well," he said.

Students from Kogarah High School talk to SBS News
Rayanne, Soukayna and Medina enjoyed playing wheelchair basketball for the first time
SBS News

Some students had never seen wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, but enjoyed the chance to participate.

"It was hard," Medina, a student at Kogarah High in Sydney's south told SBS News.

"But it was fun, it was awesome" Rayanne, another student added.

"I don't think, I had ever thought I'd be playing wheelchair basketball," Soukayna, also from Kogarah High school said.

One section of the education program considers how someone may overcome physical disability through the use of a prosthesis.

There is also a component where students resolve situations that happen in real life drawing on the Invictus Games' values of inclusion, resilience, and service in their responses.

"The most important thing they [the students] take away is a sense that no matter what happens to you in life, it's not what happens to you that determines the value of your life, but how you deal with it.

"The hope in life is most sustained and strengthened when people help one another and work with one another," Brendan Nelson, the Australian War Memorial director, told SBS News.

Students will also have the opportunity to engage with Invictus athletes, learning about their military service and the difficulties they have endured.

Rachel Kerrigan shows off her wheelchair basketball skills
Invictus athlete Rachel Kerrigan shows off her wheelchair basketball skills
SBS News

'PTSD will always be a part of my life'

It's the stories and experiences of Invictus Games competitors like Rachel Kerrigan, that organisers hope will have a lasting impression on students.

Rachel Kerrigan proudly tells students how training for the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando set her on the path to recovery.

She has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and chronic depression from her time in Afghanistan.

"PTSD will always be part of my life, but from where I was in 2010 where I couldn't even walk out of my house to the mailbox (because) my anxiety was so bad, I'm now here, I'm part of the games, I'm giving talks, so it's definitely shown me that PTSD will always be a part of me, but it's only a small part of who I am and I've got control back of my life again," Ms Kerrigan told SBS News.

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