Alongside the action on the sporting fields at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 presented by Jaguar Land Rover, an Outreach Program aimed at leaving a long-lasting legacy was held.
“Leaving a legacy from hosting the Games was always a priority for the Sydney Organising committee,” says AIMG Chairman Lieutenant General Peter Leahy (Ret’d) AC.
“We talk of Games On Down Under, I now want to talk about Games Done Down Under. Now is the time to really do something for the Future. “We had a vision to really do something for the future. We have inspired Sydney and we have inspired Australia. We want to grab that inspiration and really do something for the future that remains as our legacy form the Games.”
Over the week of competition in Sydney, the Outreach Program explored different themes relating to legacy in the community and activated a series of initiatives in the following areas of: Education, Sport, Volunteering, Mental Health and finishing with a Veterans’ Day.
CEO Patrick Kidd made the Outreach Program a priority for his team.
“Australia has an incredible opportunity to ensure that these Games have a lasting impact and are more than just a sporting event. We are determined to use the platform provided by these Games to reach and inspire others.”
Monday featured Education with over 6,000 students from 185 schools around the country coming to the Games and enjoying a series of hands-on workshops including playing disability sports like Wheelchair Basketball and Sitting Volleyball as well as an engineering session understanding the science behind creating artificial limbs. This experience is fundamental in changing perceptions of disability sport and highlighting to students that anything is possible.
Several schools attending the Games have reported that for many of their students their attendance will be life changing and indeed “one of the most important days of my future.”
Tuesday’s emphasis was directed at Sport with several groups of children from outreaching areas invited to participate in sporting experiences during the Games, including invitation matches and inspirational seminars by Invictus Games Sporting Ambassadors.
A high-level sports lunch was also held at the Stadium Australia where executives of National and State Sporting Organisations committed themselves to reviewing programs that could allow injured veterans or people with disabilities to participate in mainstream sporting environments. The commitment of many large sporting associations would be an enduring legacy for the integration of adaptive sport following the Games.
Wednesday celebrated the Power of Volunteering and the Outreach Program focussed on the value of volunteering and the reasons that volunteers signed up to contribute to the Invictus Games. It showcased many of the volunteers and the financial and workforce hour contribution of volunteering in Australia.
Thursday explored the impact of Mental Health in the veteran community and the friends and family of veterans. Discussion on the curative healing power of sport to reduce mental illness created meaningful interaction with a variety of mental health organisations. The main message to come from this Outreach Program was that not all veterans have mental health problems, but for those that do, it is ok to ask for help and address it.
The final days celebrated Veterans’ Day with an exciting, meaningful legacy of the establishment of Veteran Sport Australia announced. This initiative hosted by the RSL will provide adaptive sport opportunities for veterans and will also extend to including major sporting organisations recognising the importance of including sport for veterans. There was also a free National Career Expo, hosted by With You With Me. Another tangible example of organisations coming together to help veterans and their families in a constructive way.
With the final word on Legacy of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) summarised.
“Legacy says, ’I’m master of my fate and captain of my soul, I am unconquered.’ That is their spirit. Australia and the rest of the world needs to support the practical things that elevates veterans’ quality of life.”
Invictus Games Sydney 2018