Double Paralympic champion and world record holder Hannah Cockroft met former street children from across the world in Rio de Janeiro when she visited the 2016 Street Child Games last month.
She said: “It’s so amazing to be involved in the Street Child Games. There are massive parallels between how the 2012 Paralympics challenged the way people with disabilities are perceived and the way the Street Child Games challenges the way street children are perceived. The Street Child Games gives young people the chance to show people what they’re worth – just because you have problems doesn’t make you any less human and we all deserve to be treated the same.”
Hannah met Drika, Innocent and Erica, Street Child Ambassadors from Brazil, Burundi and the Philippines respectively. The young people clearly made an impression on Hannah. She said: “You meet them, hear their stories and realise and how far they’ve come. I can see the parallels between their situation and me growing up with a disability. I got told the word ‘can’t’ a lot – ‘you can’t do this because you’ve got a disability.’ They have been told similar things.”
“I find them so inspirational because they’re trying to make a difference for the better. I’m lucky because I have a fantastic family at home who would do anything to help me. I wouldn’t be half as successful as I am without that support. I don’t think I’d be able to motivate myself to go out and do hard things every day without them. The fact that these young people can do that, that they have something inside them that makes them amazing on their own, is phenomenal.”
Cockroft, 23 from, from Halifax in West Yorkshire, won the 100m and 200m gold medals in the T34 category at the London 2012 Olympics. In October she won the 100m, 400m and 800m titles in the IPC World Championships, and is competing in the same three events in Rio 2016.