|Today in ‘Time of Our Lives’ we meet Michael Morgan!
Tell us about you?
I am a 41-year-old father of three (Elska , Phoenix, Zephyr). I have been married 7 years to my beautiful wife Annika and I was born and lived my whole life on the Gold Coast. I am the eldest of six kids, three with Spina bifida. I have always had a love of sports, health and fitness.
Training my brother who has spina bifida helped plant the idea which moved me towards my passion to work with people with disability. So when I started working at Gold Coast Recreation & Sport doing what I love, learning so much about many different disabilities and working with so many amazing people, you could say I found my dream job.
Soon after, I also started volunteering as a basketball coach for Special Olympics which I continue till today. I am part of an inclusive basketball team that plays in a mainstream competition every Monday night, which has been a very rewarding and fun endeavour.
What is your involvement with Down syndrome?
Over my nearly 14 years of working in the disability industry, I’ve had the privilege of working with many people with Down syndrome and their families. I have helped coordinate camps, develop fitness and sporting activities with GCRS and coached many representative basketball teams with the Special Olympics. I also help coordinate all Special Olympics basketball programs on the Gold Coast, that many participants who have Down Syndrome attend.
So when we found out 4 years ago that our second child had Down syndrome, we were over the moon, to say the least.
What inspires you to do what you do?
The people I work with and my son.
I can truly say I love what I do and who I work with, and my son now gives me a deeper passion to provide the type of care and programs I would expect for him when he starts attending such activities.
What are some of you / their achievements?
✔ 13 years in the disability industry at Gold Coast Recreation & Sport
✔ 12 years volunteering for the Special Olympics
✔ Winning the gold medal at the 2015 World games in Los Angeles as part of the coaching team for the Australian men’s basketball team
✔ Coaching The Australian basketball team at the Asia-Pacific games
✔ Coaching Queensland Special Olympics basketball teams on numerous occasions.
✔ Coaching the Junior Queensland Special Olympics teams on two different occasions.
✔ Being inducted into the Gold Coast Recreation & Sport on an Honor roll
✔ Being a dad
What are some of your challenges?
Working six days a week in the disability industry and doing volunteer work while trying to raise three kids under 5 years old as well as fitting in my son’s therapies. It makes for a busy life, and even though it may seem challenging at times, we have learned to love the chaos.
What are your goals and ambitions for 2022?
Familywise, my goal is to continue to help my son who has Down syndrome with his speech and physical therapies, and provide as many opportunities for him to continue to excel as he currently does. Getting him ready for school in one year’s time and getting him toilet trained by the end of this year is another objective.
How long have you been involved with Down Syndrome Queensland?
When she got the diagnosis, my wife joined social networking and community groups, and we began educating and advocating even before we had our son.
Since our son was born, we’ve utilised DSQ for resources and support, and we continue to go to social gatherings organised by Down Syndrome Queensland to get to know other families on the Gold Coast who also have children with Down syndrome.
What advice would you give to someone with Down syndrome thinking about getting involved in Basketball or any other sport?
Give it a go, they may love it.
Try and persevere through any initial resistance and challenges but if it’s not the right time, try again a bit further down the track. I have had the privilege of witnessing some amazing growth and improvement in many people I helped support when first introduced to basketball. The participants with Down syndrome who continue their basketball learning and playing journey end up loving it.
Like in any sport, it’s all about practice, practice, practice and having fun!
What are the benefits?
Obviously, the health benefits of participating in physical activities are well known, but I would say that practising a sport is probably more about the friendships and social skills that develop when being part of a group activity or team.
Do you have any other comments or information you would like to share?
We are looking forward to Phoenix’s first time running out with the Titans players in August at the Cbus stadium. We are also super lucky to have such great friends, support networks and connections in the disability sector. We treat Phoenix like our other kids. He goes to the same daycare and will go to the same school as his sister. We hope he continues to grow up being accepted and loved by all (like he already is!).
#DownSyndromeQueensland #downsyndrome #inclusion