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Beijing's big event gives volunteer a new lease of life

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-03-17 13:48
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Outside the volunteer service station in the Wangjing subdistrict of Chaoyang district in Beijing, Li Nan, in a wheelchair and dressed in the uniform of a 2022 Paralympic Winter Games volunteer, passionately described helping disabled people.

Li has been a social worker since 2008, when she worked as a volunteer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"Working as a volunteer, I've found that I'm still capable of managing lots of things. Participating in volunteer services is a rebirth for me," she says.

In 2003, a car accident paralyzed the then 25-year-old. The accident caused massive damage, both physically and mentally, and she spent the next five years in hospital undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

In January 2008, she was discharged from hospital, and she was worried. "I didn't know whether I could adapt to normal life again; whether I could work and would be accepted by others after leaving the hospital that protected me," she recalls.

At that time, the community of Wangjing invited her to join Sweet Home, a service organization set up by the local Disabled Persons' Federation that provides recovery, education, employment, cultural and sports activities, among other services, for the disabled.

At Sweet Home, Li showed the career development of disabled people and the organization's activities to athletes from 19 countries and regions. The communication across language barriers with athletes and disabled people brought her to life again.

In 2012, a social work office named after Li was established and has so far attracted over 60 volunteers, who work on helping the elderly and the disabled, youth services, and community administration.

When recruitment began for volunteers for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, without hesitation, Li signed up.

Li and her team worked at a station conducting a campaign of general knowledge about the Olympics and providing assistance to the disabled, while the surrounding companies and communities would organize personnel to participate in activities with volunteers.

On March 4, the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Winter Games was held. The station organized an activity by inviting the staff of an enterprise in Wangjing to experience the real life of disabled people; to help them better understand the disabled and provide details about how to help them.

Li herself has a special wheelchair that she can control very well, and she is comfortable dealing with various daily activities, mostly by herself. Occasionally, though, she requires the help of colleagues or family members.

"It's a great honor for me to be a volunteer at the Olympics and Paralympics. I hope that through my own efforts, more disabled people can open their hearts and embrace society again, and more people can understand the lives of disabled people," she says.

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