Triple Olympian and bronze medallist rower Chris Morgan will share his journey as an Olympian with students on the autism spectrum as part of Walk for autism, a major fundraising event being held at the New South Wales Central Coast this Friday 1 April.
Morgan, who competed at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016, will connect with students and families at the Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) event, through the AOC’s Olympics Unleashed program.
Walk for autism is the flagship national fundraising and awareness campaign of Aspect and is aimed at creating a world where no-one on the autism spectrum is left behind. In celebration, each of Aspect’s nine schools hold their own supporting walk-a-thons.
Held around World Autism Awareness Day (2 April), the Walk for autism has helped raise more than $5.7 million since its inception in 2016, with the goal in 2022 to raise $1.7 million.
While a planned community walk-a-thon for the day has had to be cancelled due to rain, Morgan will meet with over 40 senior students from the Aspect Central Coast School, to walk laps of the perimeter of the school, before talking to the students about his experience of being an Olympian on the autism spectrum.
Morgan said he is looking forward to connecting with the students to show what possibilities are out there for people on the autism spectrum
“As someone on the autism spectrum myself, I never really fit in, and life was a series of opening my own eyes as to what I can do and where I can go,” Morgan said. “We all tell ourselves the story of what is and isn’t possible – sharing my story with kids I hope can dispel a lot of those myths.
“We put these limits on ourselves based on only knowing stories we’ve heard – but there are so many stories outside the norm and life can take us in some pretty interesting directions. We all have a lot more possibility than what we believe.
“I always look forward to the chance to connect with kids and help share a message that can hopefully make a little bit of a change in their lives. If my story can help kids rethink what they can do, that’s a massive thing.
“I think we’re only limited by the doors we’re willing to walk through – we can better support people from all different backgrounds to discover doors they may not have even know existed and to help them achieve what they want to achieve.”
AOC CEO Matt Carroll said this is a great example of the power of the Olympic spirit to inspire young Australians.
“This is a fantastic event and I’m thrilled Chris will be able to share his story as part of the Walk for Autism,” Mr Carroll said.
“Olympians have inspiring stories that go beyond sport, and having an Olympian face to face with young people is a powerful way to engage students about what you can achieve when you have a goal and work towards it.
“For Chris to be able to share his own lived experience with young people and families who may be experiencing something similar is so valuable and the AOC is proud that we are able to support this event through Olympics Unleashed.”
Principal Mark Rudd, from the Aspect Central Coast School said, Walk for autism was a free national event held annually to raise funds to support children and adults on the autism spectrum.
“Every year in celebration, our students come together to do a walk-a-thon to raise money that goes directly to our school.
“Having someone like Chris Morgan come along to speak to the students provides such incredible inspiration for our students and an important role model for them to look up to,” Mr Rudd said, “It is just such a great opportunity.
Members of the community can get involved wherever they are in Australia – Walk for autism is also a free virtual walking event, which means you can do it at your own pace, in your own time, while raising much-needed funds to support people on the autism spectrum.
The Walk for autism Challenge week is on now and you can find out more at www.walkforautism.org.au.
Olympics Unleashed takes Olympians and athletes aspiring to Paris 2024 and Milano-Cortina 2026 into Australian schools and communities to inspire and motivate students to be their best. The program aims to bring out the ‘Olympic Spirit’ in all students to pursue their passion whether that’s in sport, the classroom, the playground or at home. You can find out more and register your school at www.olympicsunleashed.com.a