Since 1992, the International Day of People with Disability has played an integral role in promoting awareness and understanding through the lens of people living with disability. It aims to spotlight the incredible achievements of people with disabilities, and to challenge the perception of disability in order to grow a more diverse and inclusive environment; a mission which aligns with our Smartgroup culture and has earned us recognition as an Inclusive Employer in 2021/2022 by the Diversity Council Australia.
Last week, we were delighted to be joined by global keynote speaker Sam Bloom at our International Day of People with Disability event. Sam is a two-time World Para Surfing champion, bestselling author and inspiration behind the star-studded Hollywood movie Penguin Bloom.
During the event, Sam shared her raw and powerful story of recovery after a devastating injury left her paralysed. With the help of her loving husband, three sons, and a baby magpie called Penguin, Sam was able to slowly but surely adjust to her new normal and start the healing process mentally and physically.
“No matter how much you hurt or how bad you feel, accepting the love of others and loving them in return in any degree you can, will help make you whole again – trust me, I know.” – Sam Bloom
Sam spoke on the challenges which she faced coming home from the hospital, and the heart-breaking dark space which she found herself in. A chance encounter with an unlikely friend – an injured magpie, which the family later named Penguin, gave Sam a renewed hope and purpose in life as she spent her days bonding with and caring for the little bird.
"When I look back on my past from despair to the light, I’m shocked that so much can change for the better in such a relatively short time.” – Sam Bloom
Sam also spoke about how everyone has the potential to overcome adversities and how to push beyond your physical and mental limits to become truly resilient when faced with extreme hardship. After a long healing process, Sam became active and engaged with sports again. Today, Sam is a world ParaCanoe championship kayaker and World Para Surfing champion and also works with numerous spinal cord injury charities around the world to help raise funds and awareness towards a cure for spinal cord injury. Penguin was set free after recovering from her injury, but Sam’s time spent with the magpie remains a hugely important and touching part of her journey of recovery.
We’d like to thank Sam and Cameron Bloom for joining Smartgroup in celebrating the power of a diverse and inclusive community. If you’d like to read more about Sam, please click here.
To find out about the steps Smartgroup is taking to have an inclusive culture, please click here.