Last week saw the second ever Invictus Games take place in Orlando, Florida – and what a games it was. Following the inauguration of the Olympic-style event in 2014, Prince Harry’s initiative has this year witnessed athletes from 14 countries compete in an array of disciplines, from sitting volleyball to indoor rowing. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that competitors are former servicemen and women who have sustained injuries, both physical and mental, in the line of duty.
Yet such injuries, setbacks and obstacles do not define these games. To the contrary, the heart of the 2016 Invictus Games lies in three letters, lit up within the slogan’s midst: I AM. Refusing to define competitors by their disability, this affirming tagline instead recognises athletes by their talent and contribution to the sporting arena. This theme is manifest throughout the Games, where a Partnership with Sage will enable competitors to apply their unique skills to entrepreneurialism, developing life beyond disability.
By identifying Invictus competitors by their assets as opposed to their deficits, the 2016 Invictus Games embodies the Advantaged Thinking ethos at its finest. Addressing pupils at Bethnal Green Academy in East London, former Royal Marine and double Gold medal winner Andy Grant spoke of his ultimate drive to “turn a negative into a positive.” This is exactly the approach we try to instil in Foyers across the UK. Much like injured service personnel, life for young people should not be about learning to cope after injury, but striving to nurture, promote and progress talent for personal and social good. By spreading the Invictus spirit we can learn, not only to survive, but to thrive.
Thomas Earl | Assistant to the Chief Executive, The Foyer Federation