Marie Little has devoted her life to helping people in need, in particular those among us who are physically or intellectually challenged.
She has been a member of countless State, national and international federations including being appointed the convenor/organiser of the Australian Team to the first world championships for athletes with intellectual disability held in Sweden in 1989.
Marie has for many years been involved in the roles of President, Team Manager, Board Member and fundraiser for physically or intellectually challenged athletes.
Marie developed the 5Rs strategy for encouraging participants with an integration difficulty to improve quality of life through participation in sport and recreation. She says it has been rewarding to observe what they have achieved through the approach.
Respect (for yourself and others), Risks (which are inherent in all circumstances) Rules (knowledge of which are essential keys towards a rewarding and effective lifestyle), Responsibility (for your own actions) and Rights (which need to be exercised appropriately).
The 5Rs promote positive self-esteem and teach life skills not just limited to sport and recreation. These positive affirmations flow over into all aspects of life.
A story Marie lists as one of her most rewarding successes concerns a woman she first met whilst the woman was incarcerated. Upon her release, Marie introduced her to the local netball club. Since that introduction, the woman undertook a netball coaching course and coached netball teams. She also completed a coaching course for football and coached her son’s football team.
Another story that demonstrates the positive transformation created with Marie’s approach involves a young man who made his local football team; he said proudly
“I am not a special kid anymore, I am a Goodwood Football Player”.
Marie’s commitment to others as the voice for change has never wavered. It has remained loud and strong in support for athletes with disabilities.
Marie has been at the forefront of many organisations and associations supporting athletes with disabilities including the Australian Paralympic Committee and the South Australian Sport and Recreation Association for Intellectually Disabled Persons. She was keynote speaker at the Toronto International Association for Scientific Study into Mental Deficiency
Marie firmly believes that sport is the greatest way to level the playing field of life. Irrespective of one’s wealth, age, level of fitness or location, when one steps on to a court, field or oval every individual is equal.
For Marie, motivation is the most important part of any activity. “There is no such word as can’t.”