Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Harmonie-Rose on international sports shortlist

Andy Hopkinson | 10th November 2020

Is there any limit to the achievements of Harmonie-Rose?

Meningitis Now Junior Ambassador Harmonie-Rose on international gymnastics shortlist

Fresh from the accolade of becoming our first Junior Ambassador as a way of recognising her and her family’s contribution to fighting meningitis, the Bath youngster has now qualified as a finalist in an international sports competition.

Harmonie, who celebrated her 7th birthday at the weekend, has been selected as one of just five youngsters worldwide in the under 12s category of the United Through Sports (UTS) World Virtual Youth Festival for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) 'Inclusive Sports' Challenge.

A total number of 138 applications from across all regions in the world were received for both the under-12 and under-18 categories during the two-week long application period. 

Entrants needed to film themselves performing an exercise routine of their choice for up to 60 seconds. Then they needed to spend 45 seconds to the camera explaining their motivation to participate in the challenge and what world leaders need to do to create a more accessible and inclusive future for all people.

Only UK finalist

Harmonie is the only child from the UK to make it to the finals. She shared a one minute video of her gymnastic routine and, in her video to judges about what world leaders need to do to create a more accessible and inclusive future, Harmonie told them, “I want everyone to be treated with respect.”

"It has been a treat to watch the enthusiasm of youngsters around the world towards sports and listen to their optimistic and inspiring messages", said Indian Paralympic Committee President and Paralympic medallist Deepa Malik, who shared the judging panel with six Para athletes, disability advocates and Paralympic leaders.

When reviewing the videos, judges followed a criteria based on inspiration, passion, dedication and commitment. They looked for creativity within the exercise routine, how well it was performed, the youngsters’ motivation to participate and the content of the message to world leaders.

Submissions were great

Fellow judge Angelica Bernal, Colombian wheelchair tennis and world top 10, added: "Submissions were great; watching the commitment of so many kids and youngsters from across the planet to build a better future for all people, and showing their love for sport was incredible. Picking five for each category was very difficult."

Medal winners will be announced during the UTS World Virtual Youth Festival that will be hosted in Thailand between 20 and 22 November to coincide with the United Nations World Children’s Day.

The festival will include virtual medal ceremonies, inspirational opening and closing ceremonies and will incorporate a vital platform of education by including an opening conference, panel discussions and workshops. Topics of focus will include: Peace through sport, Inclusion and non-discrimination, Athletes’ roles and responsibilities, Safeguarding and child protection among others.

Proved time and again

Harmonie, who has proved time and again just how much she can achieve, contracted meningococcal MenB meningitis when she was only 10 months old and later developed septicaemia, which led to both her arms and legs being amputated.

Since then she has featured extensively across Meningitis Now’s campaign and awareness activities, including a starring role in the charity’s video to support World Meningitis Day 2018 where she helped viewers to learn the signs and symptoms of the disease before she declared that she needed a little lie-down! Harmonie's appearance was viewed over 88,000 times, the largest ever response to a meningitis video.

In recent Covid-19 times, Harmonie's unique ability was thrust centre stage when she agreed to help us with our 2.6 Challenge – a national appeal to help charities across the UK deal with the financial impact of lockdown.

Rule of 26

Themed by mum Freya to reflect the six things she thought Harmonie would never be able to do even once, Harmonie set about proving Mum wrong and completed, amongst other challenges, 26 cartwheels, jumped 26 times, and gave us all Covid advice by writing ‘Stay safe’ 26 times. Each of the six challenges marked a year of Harmonie’s young and inspirational life.

“There are many other things that Harmonie, Freya, Ross, and Hannah have done for a range of charities,” our chief executive Tom Nutt said, “And always with a willingness and sense of fun that belies the incredible challenges that they face.

“We congratulate her on this latest achievement and wish her well for the medal ceremonies,” Tom added. “If anyone deserves a medal she does.”