Today, the BlazeBlog would like to highlight BlazeSports swimmer Maya Kahn. She has recently competed in two big events. Maya would like to share her experiences, while she continues to win gold!
On June 18-20 I competed in the Jimi Flowers Classic meet in Colorado Springs, CO. The meet is named after a Paralympic coach who died in a climbing accident. I was excited to meet the top Paralympic swimmers! I’ve swam in the same meets with Paralympians a number of times now, but swimming with Jessica Long is always especially exciting.
The Jimi Flowers meet is held every year at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). It was my first time seeing the OTC, and I’ve always wanted to be a resident athlete there one day. My friend Lindsay, a former Blazer, is in residence there, meaning she is in training for a spot on the Paralympic swim team. Lindsay was so kind to give me a personal tour of the OTC, showing me many of the training facilities for a number of different sports, and even showing me her dorm room. After seeing the OTC, I am even more committed to my training so that someday I may be a resident athlete at the OTC also.
Training at the OTC is tough, and even more so by the fact it is located at high altitude. Coming to Colorado Springs just the day before competition I didn’t have opportunity to acclimate, and it showed in my times. Swimming at the high altitude felt like every stroke was a chore. But I understand now why athletes train at high altitudes to make their bodies stronger.
Luckily my next meet was at sea level. Soon after Jimi Flowers I traveled to San Diego for the annual Little People of America convention and the Dwarf Athletic Association of America National Games. It was really fun swimming with my little people friends, some of which are in Paralympic training also. Even Danielle Kisser, a World Champion from Canada, was there. I was proud to get a gold in every event I entered (50 back, 50 free and 50 breast). I also had fun doing two relays, which included swimming with a wet T-shirt and then having to flip it over the next person’s head from yourself as quickly as you can. Medals were not awarded for the relays, but they were fun to do anyways!
BlazeCamp is over, and the UN Youth Leadership Camp is wrapping up. Maggie Frederick would like to give you her final thoughts and reflection on her experience. She has spent an incredible two weeks in Bradenton, FL with Dimitry, learning and developing new leadership skills that will help her long term.
This week has been tiresome and rewarding. I can not believe all the information that I am learning. So far we have learned about Judo, Rugby, and Table Tennis.
I really enjoyed Judo because Nico, the speaker, was very passionate about it and it made me excited for it. He focused a lot on the history and he talked about Judo is based on a moral code. The moral code is friendship, bravery, sincerity, honor, modesty, respect, self control, politeness, and perseverance. This really hit home to me because this is what sports did for me growing up. I learned all of these codes through sports. However, I do not think that it was ever discussed, it just happened naturally as I got older. Judo is built on this code and it is very important to the athletes. There are many different colored belts that you can get in Judo, black being the highest. You have to have the skills as well as the knowledge to move up in Judo. I never new anything about Judo before this camp and I now have a new respect for the sport and the participants.
Rugby was really interesting to me because I have only played Quad Rugby and knew nothing about able bodied Rugby. I also really enjoyed it because despite my disability, the coaches still really encouraged me to participate. We were on a grass field so it was really hard. I did the drills at the beginning but decided that it was safer I sit out for safety reasons. I got to cheer on my team and we won the mini tournament undefeated. It was a really great experience. I have never really participated in team sports with able bodied people and it was really nice to not only to be included but to feel very welcomed in doing so.
Table Tennis was also really fun because the instructors also taught the group about disabled athletes. It was nice to feel included. I struggled at the beginning because I was not very good, but after a little bit of practice I got a hang of things. What I also enjoyed is that the instructors taught us how to be resourceful. The organization is known for traveling to various countries with very little and teaches them how to play table tennis with maybe one racket and no real table for the game. It was very eye opening.
All of these experiences so far as really opened my eyes and has really encouraged me to start setting some new goals to help sport for development become bigger and bigger. I can not wait to see what myself and the other participants at this camp can do in our futures!
Meanwhile at the UN Youth Leadership Camp in Bradenton, FL, Maggie and Dimitry have been learning how to use sport as a tool for development and peace. Maggie spoke earlier about her experience in the BlazeBlog regarding the camp. Like Maggie, Dimitry has reflected and benefitted from this experience.
I am currently at the IMG Academy, a special camp for young leaders. I am representing Haiti as an Ambassador. I am having fun, as well as, learning a lot of new things. I think that everyone should know about the power of Sport! I have come to the realization that the best language to use to communicate to the kids all over the world is Sport. Sport is the best tool that we suppose to use to fight against hunger, discrimination, gender inequality, insecurity and poverty. We need to use sport to bring people together and show them that they all have their place in our society. One thing I have learned is that, when you have knowledge and you keep it for yourself; you do not know anything at all. Knowledge is to be shared. When I go back to Haiti, I will make sure that I can meet with the leaders to share my experience. It is important that we get involved in the Sport for development program. I will make myself more available to work with disable people. I will make sure that they know that they belong in sport activities.
I want to share this sentence with you: If you want to see a change in the world, you have to change first.
As camp is winding down, the fun and energy seem like it’s never going to stop. Today’s camper of the day is Malachi! Malachi is one of the new faces at BlazeCamp this year and he’s already looking forward to coming again next summer.
My favorite sport to play is basketball! I am really glad I decided to come to camp this week because it has allowed me to meet new friends and play a lot of different kind of games. I loved playing under the pavilion with my new friends. Even though basketball is my favorite, I was really excited to try new sports. Today I went canoeing for the first time. It was my favorite activity at camp! I would love to join Blaze throughout the summer to participate in the water sport days!
It’s the third day of camp and everyone is having such a blast! Can’t believe it’s almost over. Today, Samantha, is our camper of the day!
My favorite activity so far at BlazeCamp is archery. I enjoy being outside a lot, so I find myself exploring the outdoors and rock climbing. Most people think rock climbing is difficult, but I think it is super easy. I have also enjoyed making new friends. I was nervous about coming to camp, since it is my first time, but so far I have had so much fun. I can’t stop thinking about coming next year. While being here, I have also tried activities like track and field. I can’t wait to get a track chair of my own. All in all, I have enjoyed being here and helping those around me. I can’t wait to see what we do tomorrow!
It is Day 2 of BlazeCamp and so much has already happened. It’s awesome to see all of the campers enjoying their time and making new friends. Today’s camper of the day is Thomas!
This is my fifth year attending BlazeCamp. I have really enjoyed meeting new people each year. I look forward to coming back and seeing the friends I have made from previous camps. To fellow campers, I am known as T-Dawg. This year I get the pleasure of being a junior counselor. I get the chance to help with the younger campers and share my past experiences with them. BlazeCamp gives me the skills and experience that helps me in school and everyday life. I believe that the camp gives a great opportunity to individuals like me, to grow. I love to bring fun and personality to camp every year. I am really enjoying camp so far and look forward to the rest of the week.