Solomon Islands Para-Athletes Aims for Gold at the Pacific Games 2023
Helping youths with disability brings a deep sense of stewardship. Knowing that you can help take care of others nurtures in you the characteristics of kindness and goodwill. This is the story of Kevin Olea who works closely with persons with disability and special needs.
Kevin understands that helping other people requires genuine love and care. Just as he has experienced trials in his life. He now uses that experience to drive him to help young people with special needs. Often, these are young people who are neglected.
This young man from Malaita Province is passionate about helping those less fortunate than he is.
Currently, Kevin is a coach at the Solomon Islands Paralympic Committee. However, Kevin said that as a teenager, his life was very challenging.
“I was in secondary doing my form three when my parents passed away. I moved around and lived with nearly seven different families in Honiara. So, I grew up and became the person I am now because of the many families who raised me and took me in as their own. Close family. Many became my parents.”
He acknowledged that despite life being so challenging, he is grateful to the families who took him in and accommodated him. They are the reason for who he is today.
Kevin has been doing voluntary work since 2016 until today as a coach for people with special needs known as para-athletes.
“The person who really inspired me was my late Dad, who always reminded us, his sons and daughters, to always keep doing what you love to do with your heart and be passionate about what you are doing.”
Kevin said that his approach in addressing challenges even when it looks very hard is to step back and discuss with his colleagues on the best approach to address the issue.
“From there, I worked on the strengths to build this initiative and this is what I can give back to the community and the people of this country, Solomon Islands.”
The initiative currently aims to engage 30 – 40 young para-athletes and currently organises trainings three days a week and once a day over the weekends.
“At the end of each month, we have our personal trials and our friendly games.”
Kevin said that one of the initiative’s main challenge is the lack of funding to support their activities.
“We are a small group. We struggle to maintain activities due to lacking in funding. Much needed financial support will help with transport, para-athlete training and game times.”
Kevin said that there is a plan in place to reach out to three provinces to scout and to identify potential para-athletes to join them in preparation for the games in 2023.
“We are targeting Central Province, Malaita Province and Makira Province. These are our first three province that we plan to scout potential para-athletes.”
He adds that the aim is to reach out to these three provinces before the Pacific Games in 2023.
“Our main aim now is to have 30 – 40 athletes participating and competing on our very own soil at the 2023 Pacific Games.”
Kevin is optimistic that this initiative will contribute ten definite gold.
“It’s a gold, no more silver, no bronze. Gold for the medal tally for Team Solomon at the 2023 Pacific Game.”
You don’t have to contribute in big things to be satisfied about giving back to the community. You can give in a small way but it will have an impact for the people that you surround yourself with.
Kevin encouraged young people to keep doing what you are doing and keep believing in God in whatever path you take in life.
“We are still looking for young coaches. To the young people out there, if you feel that you can be part of the team during the games in 2023 and be part of our preparation, please do come and be part of this great family. Come and get involved with our young para athletes and people with special needs. This is a place that they can be part of a team and they feel that they are a part of a family. We can all help to prepare them and prepare us for the Pacific Games.”
Kevin sees the importance for youths to reach out to persons less fortunate than we are and not be selective about doing things only that would make them look good.
He highlighted that it would be beneficial to everyone if they can help to do something that is meaningful. Working with people with disability and special needs can be meaningful and fulfilling for anyone.
Kevin concludes, “It is the small things with the right crowd that brings positive impacts to the young ones around you.”
By Nina Tuhaika, YPCM Coordinator