Essay On My Favourite Sports Personality
John Hazlett has been an inspiration to thousands of students over three decades.
As the most energetic and enthusiast PE teacher you'll ever meet, he has motivated many a student to become professional athletes or PE teachers, or simply to live their life more actively.
But it is the way he included me, as a child with a disability, that I'd like to share.
Children with disabilities are far too often excluded, or at least given dull tasks, when it's time for physical education.
When I arrived at Laburnum PS, my family were just coming to terms with a diagnosis of dwarfism. In prep, I had my first round of surgery to straighten my legs, leaving both legs broken in plaster and me in a wheelchair for two months.
Although he had his hands full with his trademark dance exercise routines, Mr Hazlett recognised what a critical time this was for me. I loved ball sports, but he knew that if I was left on the sidelines I could lose my passion for physical activity all together.
So he pushed the school to buy some extra equipment - a small basketball ring amongst other things. Suddenly PE class lessons were planned around the kid in the wheelchair. All activities were completed sitting or racing the wheelchair.
The other students loved it, and it kept me going in the most traumatic period of my life to that point. It also gave me the motivation to play football in the winter, cricket in the summer and swim all year round.
In my recovery, at a time when physiotherapists were not my favourite people, he made sure I was kicking a balloon over and over to give me the strength I needed to walk.
More surgery in grade four prompted more amazing wheelchair-based activities.
These experiences were at least as valuable for the rest of the class as they were for me.
It was perhaps only at subsequent schools that I realised how lucky I was. The PE teachers had the right intentions, but I was often left on those sidelines.
Mr Hazlett's classes are legendary. If you meet someone who's gone to Laburnum in the past 30 years, you can bet they'll be able to tell you about Mr Hazlett, whether it's a list of his favourite songs, some of his dance moves, or a more personal story like mine.
In the lead up to my 21st birthday, I went back to my primary school to invite him to the party. He was on the basketball court, doing what he did best - inspiring kids. After 10 years without seeing me, he didn't need any reminding who I was.
"Everyone, gather around!" he said to the class.
"I've got a guest to introduce you to. This is Sammy. When he was a kid, he was just like you."
The thing is he would treat every alumni the same.
Now 29, I’m no professional athlete. But I am passionate about keeping physically active and swim marathons in my spare time.
This year, Mr Hazl
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