In Norway, there is an expression "Backside of the medal" (same meaning as "flipside of a coin"). A often negatively charged expression that points to what can hide behind a flashy facade that has been decorated according to all the rules of art. I have yet to see a physical medal that does not have a reverse. Perhaps there is, but it is beyond my knowledge.
But are there medals without a reverse - in a figurative sense?
For the past six years I have had the pleasure of organizing a world cycling championship for seniors and people living with dementia - Road Worlds for Seniors. Here, there is a competition to cycle the farthest, but the focus is truly on participation, socialization, personal triumphs, mastery and joy.
“It is simply absolutely fantastic. I hardly have words for how good this is. We are already looking forward to next year," says an activity staff member with tears in her eyes. She speaks on behalf of the employees, but mostly for the seniors who have participated.
Being able to take part in a friendly competition against other seniors at home and abroad despite age, a diagnosis of dementia, broken hips and knees, illness and loss is incredible!
It should not be denied that several people are in the competition to win. It triggers a deep desire to be able to be crowned world champion and get your picture in the newspaper or be interviewed on TV. It would be strange if this group did not exist - after all, it is a world championship and the participants are people with a competitive instinct!
"I am not standing here as a winner. I am standing here as a winner over myself. I set myself goals and I have reached them. We are all winners"
The words belong to a man whom I met at an medal award ceremony. He became the best cyclist in the care community and was crowned for this with applause and flowers from the employees. But from the stage, he chose the words above. And this is precisely what our championship is all about. Everyone can compete and everyone is a winner in our books!
Many of the participants in Road Worlds for Seniors can't remember ever taking part in a competition. This is what happens when dementia takes over our thoughts and minds. But the medal they are awarded with, often hangs around their neck every single day for months - and in some cases for a whole year. It is worn with pride! And with the help of employees, relatives or others, they are constantly reminded of why the medal hangs there.
"You took part in a cycling World Championship, you made a great effort together with the others here!"
“Was I in on it?”
“Yes, you were. That is why you have received a medal of your own. It's a reward for being so good at cycling"
The next thing that happens is that the bearer of the medal puts on a big smile. It will be a good moment for this person with his dementia. And these good moments are often repeated several times a day.
Does this medal actually have a reverse side? Yes, to the highest degree, but it's as good as the cover. At least for those who wear it!
Do you want to know more about Road Worlds for Seniors?
Learn More About Road Worlds for Seniors Here