As well as training hard in preparation for the Olympic Games in August, beloved PNG sprint queen, Toea Wisil has taken on her own personal challenge to improve her literacy.
With only a grade 2 reading level under her belt, Toea is determined to learn to read in order to better prepare for life after athletics.
Through her manager, Brand Ambassadors’ Director Terry Johnston, she has partnered with St. Hilda’s school on the Gold Coast where she is enjoying regular tutoring sessions each week, on top of her already heavy training schedule.
As well as improving her literacy skills, Wisil is well positioned to achieve big things this year having set a PNG National record for the 200m in a blistering 23.43 seconds at the APT State Championships in Canberra in February.
Much of her recent success and newfound focus can be attributed to the help of new coaches Tony and Alison Fairweather. They have been offering support both on and off the track, helping Toea reach her fullest potential.
“Toea’s determination and commitment to continually improving herself is really starting to pay off,” says Alison Fairweather.
“We believe education is important for everyone and are so thankful that St Hilda’s are working with Toea on her literacy skills,” adds Fairweather.
“As an athlete a lot of travel is involved, so for Toea to be able to read an airport screen, or fill out a form will be a huge change in her life. We love seeing how keen Toea is about this new challenge.”
While Toea initially found the process of learning to read daunting, she is determined to see this challenge through.
“It's a slow progress but I'm really enjoying it. My tutor Sue is really lovely and very patient, which makes it so much better,” says Wisil.
“I hope at the end of my athletics career I can get a good job and having at least a basic education is so important to me. I am feeling so much better about my future already,” she says.
Toea understands the importance of gaining a good education and looks up to not-for-profit organisations such as Buk Bilong Pikinini, who strongly believe literacy is the key to a better society.
“Illiterate adults, especially women, struggle to find a voice in their communities, and this severe gender discrimination affects millions. Literacy is the key to breaking away from this discrimination and out of poverty. This is because literacy means not only the ability to read, but the ability to process information and solve problems and to further their education,” says Paulina Van Helden, Regional Manager of Buk bilong Pikinini.
“Besides her accomplishments and fame in the sports world, Toea is taking literacy very seriously and is applying the same discipline and hard work she applies to her sprinting to improving her literacy skills.
“Toea understands that being able to read and write is important to be able to take part in the development of her country in various other fields and to participate fully in a democratic society ensuring her part in the progress of PNG, a country she is so proud of and in turn is proud of her…their golden girl,” she says.
Toea is a true role model, working towards improving her education while focusing on representing Papua New Guinea at this August’s Olympic Games where she has qualified for the 100 metre event.
Image Courtesy Brand Ambassadors