The Olympic Spirit

Posted on August 10th, 2012 by Denise | No Comments

The Olympic Spirit


Denise Koonce OTR

Gold, Silver, Bronze; you automatically think of the Olympics.  Like many individuals across the world I have spent time in front of the TV enjoying the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  Along with the Summer Games the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also oversees the Winter Olympic Games, the Paralympics, the Youth Olympics, and recognizes the Special Olympics.  What do all of these games have in common; the Olympic spirit!  The Olympic spirit can be almost palpable at times and is observed in participants in all venues of the various Olympic Games.

So, what defines the Olympic spirit?  The internet offers various definitions and individuals’ quotes including this one by the founder of the IOC, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and “The important thing is not to win but to take part.”  The quote I liked the most was “Olympic Spirit is the effort, the struggle and the refusal to give up.”  These words were spoken by a press reporter while describing the Olympic Spirit of an Olympian in 2008. I believe these same descriptors apply to the children and their parents we come in contact with everyday.

Our NW office decided that it would be a lot of fun and motivating for the children receiving therapy there to engage them in the REACH Olympics while the Summer Olympics were occurring.  As the children entered the Olympic arena (therapy hallway) they were met with a big red Mack button, which when pushed, would play the Olympic theme song; they would then pick up a “torch” and walk, wheel, or be carried while holding the torch to their designated event.  They were able to choose from a list of challenging events including table tennis, fencing, rowing, boxing, low hurdles, discus, javelin, and more.  They made a flag to represent their country and a medal acknowledging their accomplishments.  They worked on their functional goals as an Olympian and had a blast while doing so.  The motivation to participate helped them to work harder, achieve more and not give up.   The same words used to describe Olympians and the Olympic spirit.

I have seen the same spirit in the face of my own daughter during a physical therapy session after being burned on 70% of her body and having dressings literally from head to toe.  It was time for her to start walking with a walker.  Each step she took was excruciating.  We went into the common place of the hospital and the therapist told me to walk out about 20 feet away and she would have Katharine walk to me.  Once I reached my spot the therapist told Katharine to begin but instead Katharine motioned for me to move back more.  I protested, she insisted and I complied.  Then she began the effort, the struggle and the refusal to give up.  She won “gold” that day and elation filled my heart.

The Olympics has provided a unique opportunity for the patients and therapists to focus on the qualities necessary to achieve something special, pushing you to new heights, and accomplishing the ultimate goal.  These are values we want to help instill in our patients so they will never give up and will always continue to try and achieve goals that will propel them through life.  I would like to say to all of our patients, parents, and staff you are “Gold” in my book for exemplifying the Olympic Spirit everyday in all the challenges you face.

If you visit our Facebook page you can see first hand the faces of our kids experiencing the Olympics and the great examples of “the Olympic Spirit” they represent!  Include an encouraging word to our kids or share your own “Olympic Spirit” story!


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