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Wellness moonshot: Unite accomplishment with mental wellness

The Wellness Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease initiative is a gigantic undertaking. So, I decided to get a new perspective about it from someone who is accustomed to accomplishing big feats—and I found the perfect person in Dartanyon Crockett.

Dartanyon is a competitive Judo athlete. He was born with Leber’s disease, a genetic condition causing vision loss, and as a child, he endured a life of extreme poverty along with the substance abuse by members of his family. Early on, wrestling and blind judo became mental and physical outlets for him, as well as avenues for lifting himself and others out of hardship. Dartanyon then stunned the world by medaling in both the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, along with a great number of competitions worldwide.

Dartanyon’s life story is one of overcoming substantial obstacles through a deep inner drive and resilience; he’s been featured across media, from the independent news network NPR to the popular sports channel ESPN, plus in the book, Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family. He continues inspiring people today as part of Becoming Your Personal Best, a pioneering curriculum used by schools, community centers, and other youth organizations which strengthens resilience within children by drawing on life lessons from Olympians and Paralympians. Dartanyon is part of a growing movement of decorated athletes, such as gymnast Simone Biles, swimmer Michael Phelps, footballer Majak Daw, ice skater Kagiyama Yuma, and tennis star Naomi Osaka, who are shifting the narrative from accomplishment at all costs to the role mental wellness plays in living a full and thriving life.

Hear Dartanyon share the two greatest factors enabling him to succeed: leaning into the power of community, plus redefining success from winning medals to a values-driven life.

According to the latest report by Gallup, stress, worry, and anger are on the rise across the world. From Dartanyon’s point of view, even when we think we’re resilient, we may be not addressing cracks in our own lives. We “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and put on a happy face, instead of acknowledging the unresolved physical and emotional dysfunctions or traumas which may be negatively shaping our lifestyle behaviors and limiting our wellbeing. And our adverse experiences, particularly those in childhood, link with the overweightedness, heart diseases, diabetes, and other potentially preventable diseases we experience as adults.

Dartanyon gives voice to the idea that “it’s ok not to be ok.” He and all athletes have a special place in our societies, and thus, a platform for magnifying the importance of making mental health and wellness a norm, not just a discussion we have when someone is in a crisis. This amplifies what we all believe as wellness leaders: People are healthier and more fulfilled when they can include all of themselves—mind, body, emotions, and spirit.


Author: Fabiola

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