Olivia Preston says she wants to continue to help increase deaf awareness so that future generations of deaf children face fewer barriers in sport.
The 19-year-old from Bonnyrigg was recently awarded the Jock Young Award by the British Deaf Association (BDA), a national award given to a particularly inspiring role model for young deaf people.
Olivia was given the award for her sporting participation in her local area, nationally and internationally in major events. Olivia, who is profoundly deaf, plays football for Bonnyrigg Rose and was selected for the GB Ladies team at the 2017 Deaflympics.
Her charity fundraising was also recognised, Olivia took part in The Rickshaw Challenge set up by BBC's The One Show in 2016. This challenged a team of six riders to cycle Britain’s East Coast from Jedburgh to London, covering 470 miles in aid of Children in Need. The team raised £3.8 million in just eight days.
Olivia was overjoyed at winning the Jock Young Award and says she will continue to do all she can to raise deaf awareness.
She said: “I didn’t expect to be chosen as the winner of the award, it feels incredible. It feels amazing because in Scotland one in six people are deaf or have some form of hearing loss, which is around 350,000 people.
“I feel very proud to be recognised as a role model for the deaf, hopefully I can show other deaf people that it is good to take on different challenges.
"If we can all work hard to raise deaf awareness hopefully future generations of deaf children will face fewer barriers.”
Olivia is studying Coaching and Developing Sport at City of Glasgow College as she continues to pursue her dream of becoming a physical education teacher for deaf or disabled children. She wants to travel the world teaching sport to children.
She has been a member of sportscotland’s Young People’s Sport Panel for one year. The group of 16 have worked to provide a voice for young people to influence and shape the future of sport in Scotland and raise its profile.
Olivia has played a key role in that. She is part of the disability and access to sport working group and has been proactive in sharing her ideas to get more young people from the deaf community involved in sport. Olivia was also part of a group which presented to the sportscotland board in December.
Olivia is looking forward to using her positive experiences in sport to help her make the most of more opportunities in the panel’s final year.
She said: “I have loved being part of the Young People’s Sport Panel, it’s been a fantastic experience. We’ve had so many opportunities for new experiences, we’ve been at so many events and it’s been great to have the chance to help influence and shape sport. We’ve still got so much to look forward in the next year.”
When asked what she would say to other deaf young people who might be understandably reluctant to take on challenges in sport, Olivia’s message was simple.
She said: “I think you have to see the big picture. It is not about winning and losing, it is about hard work and thriving on a challenge. It is about the sense of achievement you can have after the challenge and not being afraid.
"Sometimes people think too much and get afraid of a challenge.”
Chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “Congratulations to Olivia on winning this prestigious award from the BDA. Olivia is a wonderful role model for her fellow panel members and other young people who are passionate about sport.
“She never shirks a challenge and her determination to help and encourage other young people in the deaf community is truly inspiring.”
Find out more
About the Young People's Sport Panel.