Alex McKinnon inspires over 250 local students

Published on 28 July 2021

Photos of students who took part in the School Leaders' Breakfast 2021

Cessnock City Council held its annual School Leaders’ Breakfast this morning, with former Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon inspiring over 250 students with his personal story.

The now, 29 year old, opened up about his life, from growing up in Aberdeen to chasing his dream to play professional football, to making it into the NRL and playing for the Newcastle Knights and then suffering a devastating spinal injury that changed his life.

Alex spoke honestly to students about the daily struggles he faced and the unimaginable challenges he came up against.

Alex said after he was injured he identified and focused on the things he could control.

“Things happen in life that we don’t expect or don’t understand. We have to look at what we can control and educate ourselves on things we don’t know about. We need to respect these things, get out of our comfort zone and then we will achieve growth.”

Students were asked to think about their own values and personal qualities. Alex urged students to reflect on these when making decisions as leaders.

Alex talked about his six month stay in hospital and how he thought deeply about how his injury was affecting his family and friends. This helped his mindset and attitude during recovery. Another tip for students was about the importance of practicing gratitude.

Cessnock City Mayor, Councillor Bob Pynsent said Alex had a fantastic message around leadership.

“Alex stressed that a leader isn’t always popular but must be respected for their actions. This resonates with me personally and is a great piece of wisdom for our future local leaders."

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