John Mcfall

John McFall – From Paralympian to Para-astronaut!

John McFall’s life story is so inspiring that it could take up a few different stories on IMK!

Faced with many challenges in his life, John has never let them stop him.   Despite having his leg amputated as a young man, he has gone on to be first a champion Paralympic athlete and more recently an Astronaut in training!  Let’s learn more about his story…

Starting Off

John first discovered his love for sports when he was a young boy, and he quickly became passionate about running and hockey.  When he was 19 years old and visiting Vietnam, he had a bad accident on a moped that required one of his legs to be amputated.John Mcfall 2

When he returned to his home country of England, he missed running. Eventually, he was provided an artificial leg that allowed him to run again. He started to compete in events that were designed for disabled athletes and, after much hard work, won several medals in international competitions, including the Paralympics.

Following his success at running, John studied exercise and medicine. He continued to focus on how to manage his emotions to not allow his disabilities to limit the possibilities for his life.

Exploring Space

When he learned that the European Space Agency was looking for new astronauts, it intrigued him. He decided to give it a try.  Among 22,000 other applicants!

John was selected by the European Space Agency to become the first “para-stronaut” the world has ever known. The Space Agency will work with John to understand how a person with a disability can operate in space. If all goes well, it will be at least five years John goes into space as an astronaut.

John’s story is truly inspiring, and it shows us that anything is possible if we set our minds to it. No matter what challenges we face in life, we can overcome them and achieve greatness if we work hard and persevere. So, keep pushing yourself to be the best you can be, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams.

Here is an interview with John where he discussed his selection by the European Space Agency.

Additional Resources:

Topics for Discussion:

  • How would you describe John’s attitude and the impact it had on his life?
  • What character traits does John exhibit?
  • Do you know someone who has overcome a big challenge or obstacle in their life?
  • Who most inspires you?  Why?
  • What is one thing you want to try to do now that you have seen what John can do?

Take Action:

  • Is your attitude helping you become a better person or is it holding you back?  Watch this Ted Talk about how to change your attitude for good and go follow his advice.
  • Think about a big goal that you have.  It could be for school, for family, or any other important area of your life.  Write it down. Keep track of your progress, stick with it and reward yourself when you have completed it.  Keep doing this and you will be surprised at how much you can achieve.
  • Consider holding a fundraiser to support the International Child Amputee Network 

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.
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