Julie Charlton Bound for Birmingham

Whatsapp Image 2022 06 22 At 1.38.44 Pm E1655898681561 Julie Charlton Bound For Birmingham
This week, 23rd July, Julie Charlton got on a plane to represent Australia in para-athletics in the F57 Shotput at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

This is a remarkable achievement for 23 year old Julie from Dural. Julie was born with Spina Bifida which is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. As a young girl, Julie was never fully

included in school sport, as she was always placed on the sidelines by teachers who did not have an understanding of inclusive sport. This changed when three outstanding PE teachers throughout her life gave her access to opportunities in sport.

Travelling on her own and being responsible for her wheel chair, throwing seat and two bags required for a world class event, was an extra challenge.

During Julie’s early primary school education, her family moved from lower North Shore to Dural, where she lives today with her parents.

Julie attended the American International School of Sydney (AISS). Jane and Andrew, Julie’s parents, were impressed by the school’s forward-thinking with regard to disabled students. Jonathan Butcher, the first of her life-changing PE teachers taught Julie, aged eight.

He gave her great support by encouraging her to take part in the school athletics carnival, understanding her needs and this sowed the seed for her passion for athletics. The following year, the school closed and Julie was homeschooled for that year.

James Muir, her second PE teacher, at Hills Grammar School, continued that support and encouragement. Although Julie battled initially to become accepted as part of the normal school community, her tenacity enabled her to overcome problems such as access to classrooms and inclusive educational needs.

For the last ten years, retired PE teacher, Rob Blackadder, has been her mentor and friend. They met whilst Rob was officiating and organising young athletes in competition with Athletics NSW. Rob has given her the opportunity to succeed further in para-athletics.

Apart from being chosen to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games this year and being ranked in the top 10 in the world in seated Shotput, last month Julie won a Gold Medal at the Oceania Athletics Championships in Secured Discus in Mackay.

In 2021 Julie was named Hills Shire Youth Ambassador encouraged by former Mayor, Dr Michelle Byrne who was impressed by Julie’s enthusiasm for activities for young people in the community and recommended her for this award. Michelle said:

“Julie is awesome and I love what she does to stand up for other athletes who aren’t given the same treatment and respect as able-bodied athletes. She is a dynamo and will change the world.”

One of the activities Julie is involved in is the Hills youth army (HYA). HYA organises high school students and young adults to do volunteer work in the community. It teaches them about social awareness, and solving problems and helps to develop leadership skills.

Julie is in her 3rd year of a Bachelor of Sports Coaching and Management degree at the Australian College of Physical Education, Homebush. She is an athletics coach and runs her own business, JC2 Athletics, training five young people in para-athletic sports. Julie sets them training programs which they can continue whilst she is away.

Ready Julie Charlton Bound For Birmingham

In her 23 years, Julie has done more than most of us do in a lifetime, including a 3-month internship at ABC Sport, Ultimo, shadowing presenters in TV, radio and digital which she greatly enjoyed. She is well versed in public speaking and expresses herself eloquently. I asked if she would like to continue in sports journalism. Julie hesitated and said:

“My philosophy, as an athlete, is to be the best I can be. It means continuing to improve my strength, my mindset and my knowledge of sport as a member of Athletics. I don’t like having competitive goals, they are short term and don’t let me grow philosophically. I want to advise and help grow para-athletics and future athletes to be their best.

“As disabled people, it’s not our disability we have to overcome but society’s attitude and its reluctance to learn about disability, which is known as Ableism”.

Julie is an impressive and inspiring young woman and whatever pathway she decides to take, she will be a great ambassador not only for disability rights and inclusive education, but for the youth of today.

Julie Charlton

Local Plumber

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