When visiting a secondary school recently, we overheard a group of students discussing the fact that one of the students chose only to read inspiring true stories to help keep their ‘first world problems’ in perspective. It was a heartening conversation to overhear.
Inspiring true stories are excellent for giving perspective, but they can be so much more than that. These stories teach empathy, offer alternate views of the world, expand horizons, motivate people to push themselves to be the best they can be and strive for goals and dreams they might not have dared to reach for before.
With that in mind, here are some inspiring true stories that are perfect for sharing with your students.
When Kurt Fearnley was a kid, he would leave his wheelechair at the front gate and go exploring with his brothers and sisters. ‘You’re going to have to be stronger than we are,’ they told him, ‘and we know you will be.’
The boy from Carcoar was raised to believe he could do anything. At fifteen, he won his first medal. Then he conquered the world, winning three Paralympic gold medals, seven world championships and more than 35 marathons. A world-beater in and out of his wheelchair, Kurt is a true Australian champion.
Inspiring, exhilarating and highly entertaining, Pushing the Limits takes us inside the mind of a kid with a disability growing up in a tiny town, a teenager finding his place in the world, and an elite sportsman who refuses to give up, no matter how extreme the challenge.
Walk Tall is a special younger readers’ edition of the Jim Stynes autobiography My Journey, adapted by Warwick Green.
Part football autobiography and part coming-of-age story, Walk Tall is an inspirational and unforgettable account of a man who continues to inspire through his life and his legacy.
There were men in strange jerseys on the TV, running around with some kind of rugby ball.
I turned to my father. ‘What’s this, then, Dad?’
He looked up from his paper. ‘Australian football.’
What’s the big deal about that? I thought.
At first, Jim Stynes didn’t understand Australian football at all. But once he accepted the challenge to play, there was no stopping him. Jim never took the easy road, on or off the football field. He pushed himself, and he worked hard to help others realise their potential. In this special younger readers’ edition of his bestselling autobiography, Jim Stynes shares his early life as a knockabout kid growing up in Ireland, his move to Australia as a teenager and his rise to football stardom, with all the trials and tribulations along the way.
This is a remarkable story. It will change the way you look at life.
For a couple of weeks, Matthew Ames didn’t feel well. The busy father of four young children knew things were not quite right but suddenly he was in Emergency, with a severe case of toxic shock syndrome – the common bacteria Strep A had entered his bloodstream and his body had gone into shutdown. He was put into an induced coma and the only way he could be kept alive was to have all his limbs amputated.
Diane Ames knew exactly what her husband would want and that he would cope – he had always been optimistic and practical. Despite a one per cent chance of survival, she asked the doctors to go ahead with the radical operation. And so began the inspiring story of an ordinary family’s courage and determination to make the most of a terrible situation.
What happened to Matthew could happen to anyone. But not everyone would accept what life offers and pursue possibilities in the way that he does. Matthew has astounded doctors with his adaptation to a new way of living, so much so that he is about to become a bionic man. And he has never once questioned Diane’s decision – it gave him the chance to truly understand how much family matters and to appreciate humanity.