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    INSPIRATION: Australian Paralympian Stuart Tripp shared his life experience with students at Horsham Primary School on Friday. Mr Tripp is pictured with students from Mrs Pope’s grade four class. Picture: COLIN MacGILLIVRAY

Stuart Tripp delivers inspirational message

Australian Paralympian Stuart Tripp visited Horsham Primary School on Friday to share his life experiences with students from grades three to six.

Mr Tripp represented Australia at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympics, winning a silver medal in the 2016 handcycling time trial.

Mr Tripp was 24 years old in 1994 when a car crash resulted in him losing his right leg and suffering head trauma, amnesia and kidney failure.

He was overweight and struggled with his mental health before being introduced to handcycling in 2003.

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Mr Tripp talked to students about his sporting achievements and how he dealt with the aftermath of the car crash.

“I showed them a brief video of me in Rio and gave them a bit of backstory about losing my leg, the car accident and how I started to ride a bike to cope with depression and anxiety,” he said.

“I said, if I’ve got to ride a bike to keep myself balanced, why not keep doing it?”

Mr Tripp said young students were usually receptive to talks about mental health.

“They get the message better than a lot of people realise,” he said.

“I adjust the terminology a bit so it’s more age appropriate – rather than saying I was depressed or anxious, I might say I was feeling sad or down for a long period of time.

“I talk about how exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, but I call them ‘dolphins’ to begin with.

“I tell them endorphins are a chemical that makes your brain feel happy, and dolphins are happy animals too, and that helps it stick.

“It’s important for kids to realise exercise is important for mental wellbeing just as much as it is for physical wellbeing.”

Mr Tripp was also a guest speaker at the Wimmera Sports Star of the Year Awards at Holy Trinity Lutheran College on Friday night.

For more on the awards, see pages 16 and 17.

– Colin MacGillivray