ChildFund Australia is thrilled to welcome Annabelle Williams on board as an ambassador.
Annabelle (pictured left) is a Paralympic Gold Medallist, motivational speaker, lawyer, TV Reporter, sports commentator, an advisor to the Australian Olympic Committee and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to sport. She is also a mother, a disability rights advocate and believes in the power of using sport to encourage social inclusion.
“I think the work that ChildFund does is extraordinary – education, healthcare, sports care – those are the essentials that every child needs access to,” she says.
Annabelle is an ally for people living with disability. Born without her left hand, something her doctors could never quite explain, she has always chosen to see her disability as a strength.
“The positive things that have happened in my life have completely outweighed the challenges. Or maybe I’ve chosen to look at the bright side or seen it as an opportunity for growth.
Annabelle credits the support of her family for being able to overcome many of these challenges in her life, but she knows that not all children are as fortunate.
Approximately 15% of the global population live with some form of disability. It is estimated that 80% of those with a disability live in developing countries. This is largely a result of poor access to healthcare, civil or domestic violence, and widespread communicable diseases.
In many of the communities that ChildFund works with, children with a disability often experience social exclusion, harassment, have difficulty accessing adequate healthcare and a quality education and face a negative stigma. ChildFund is committed to challenging this stigma and exclusion through education; and so is Annabelle.
“Access to a quality education for children with a disability is incredibly important. Education is power. The more educated we all are – not just people with a disability – the more we can have agency over ourselves and the more likely we’ll be able to determine our own future.”
As an ambassador for ChildFund, Annabelle will advocate for the rights of children across many areas of the Convention of the rights of the Child CRC including the right to health, education, to live free from violence to birth registration to decent housing and the right to play- which includes sport and recreation.
An avid athlete herself, first with running and then swimming on the Australian Paralympic team later in life, she is particularly excited to support ChildFund’s flagship program, Sport for Development. The program encourages children and young people, with an emphasis on young girls, to learn a new sport. Through this they learn vital life skills to help them on and off the field.
Annabelle has always valued the opportunities that sport has provided her to develop her confidence in her abilities, learn leadership skills, and to socialise with her friends.
Annabelle will champion children’s rights and advocate that each child has the right to a childhood. Children with disability add value, strength, and diversity to our communities – this must be recognised. “Children with disabilities have skills and strengths that the world would be lucky to have. They’re excellent and incredible problem solvers. Throughout our whole life, especially as adults, whether it’s in the workforce or playing sports – you want to be able to problem solve.”
Annabelle hopes that by sharing her story and taking on this role as a ChildFund Ambassador, she’ll be able to inspire children around the world to claim their full potential – and change the stigma around living with a disability by advocating for change to end discrimination and exclusion.
Annabelle has a message for children around the world living with a disability: “Never underestimate what you’re capable of; because I think society tends to underestimate us. Realise that there’s nothing you are incapable of doing. You’ll be able to figure out a way to do whatever you want to do. You’ll be able to work it out.”