Dream big, achieve more

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A spark of inspiration for child care workers from the inspirational Cam Calkoen.

Everyone who works in child care and early childhood education has one thing in common: passion. A love of educating children and seeing them grow and thrive calls many to become Educators, Teachers, and more. Just as careers in child care mirror the growth and development of the children we work with, so does the need for setting goals and building confidence and resilience.


Guardian recently held its annual conference, with the theme Connect.Aspire.2022. It brought together invited team members from across the country for the first time in two years, to share ideas and hear inspiring talks to drive us to grow in our careers and constantly improve how we care for young children.

Guest speaker Cam Calkoen was just the tonic, with this inspiring talk, ‘Dream big, achieve more’. Cam was born with Cerebral Palsy, but he chose to embrace the challenges he was born with and harness his gifts. He dreamed big and went on to become an Olympic athlete, social entrepreneur, and speaker who shares his story to inspire others.

Cam focused on goal setting, confidence, and resilience. As Cam says, we all have dreams but too often we let our perceptions of ourselves, or our circumstances get in the way. The problems or obstacles we think face may well be real, but as Cam points out, speech and physical impairments are also real. All that is left to do is try, and in trying, we achieve more than we imagine we could.

Cam provided the attendees with worksheets, the tools to help turn dreams into plans, and plans into steps for taking action. His handouts ask people to first consider a big achievement to date – recognsie first that you have achieved amazing things. Put that in a big circle or square on the left-hand side of the page. On the opposite side, draw another circle or square and in that, write down your big dream. These are you start and end points. Connecting them are two lines of smaller circles. One has the steps needed to get there, and the other contains the names of the people who you know will support you on that journey. There’s your plan to dream big, achieve big.

As child care workers, what would happen if we stopped dreaming or taking risks with our careers and professional growth? Supporting children to grow is directly linked to growing ourselves. Setting big scary goals and trying to reach them helps early childhood education professionals become more confident, more resilient, and more ambitious as individuals and team. Dreaming big helps us to achieve big, and ultimately, supports children who benefit from our attempts to push our own boundaries.

It’s an attitude that connects with our mindsets: to be positive, brave, thoughtful, and professional. Cam showed us how we can be brave, and gave us the tools to do it. We’ve been reflecting on Cam’s words and many of us have his cards on our desk to remind us each day that our attitude can help us to achieve amazing things. When we achieve amazing things, children will be supported to be bold, curious, and creative in their learning.

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