Rangi Stories – Una Kinajil-Reding
Una (they/them) is a national athletics record holder who hopes to not only compete at the Paralympics one day, but also to help open up conversations around disability and inclusion. Una is involved in choir and performing arts, as well as LGBTQIA+ and sustainability initiatives. They started at Rangi Ruru in 2019 and will graduate in 2023.
Athletics and Inclusion
I have Erb’s palsy, which is a birthing injury. It affects my right shoulder. Basically, when I was born the nerves and tendons in my right shoulder ripped and tore, which is why I can’t move my arm properly.
When I was in primary school and competing at the Canterbury competition, my sports director asked me if I wanted to compete in the para categories, so I did and two years later Parafed Canterbury picked me up and I started properly competing from then.
I have since won national records in shotput, discus and javelin in the F46 classification and hope to one day compete at the Australia Track and Field Championships—and maybe even the Paralympics.
I want to see parasport being talked more about because it opens up more conversations about disabilities and the amazing things people can do that are not just physical.
Breaking the Stigma
The main mental challenge I went through with my disability is when I first started out competing, I didn’t realise I had a disability because no one ever told me explicitly for my first 12 years of life.
I just thought I was weird or different, because I was around my class and friends and none of them had a disability. Then once I did realise, I actually felt less stigmatised because at that point my experience with people with disabilities was through sport and seeing their potential.
Meeting para athletes like New Zealand javelin thrower Holly Robinson and making lots of new friends through sport has shown me that I can overcome both mental and physical challenges to be my best.
For me, being my best is pushing myself to always do better and not giving up when I don’t do as well as I would hope. And learning from that and keeping going.
A Supportive Network
Being at Rangi Ruru has really created a support system around me to help push me. I have some amazing teachers who have helped me in general aspects and in my sport.
I am in the senior school choir, Resolutions, as well as another out-of-school choir. Resolutions is my favourite choir I’ve been a member of, and I’ve had amazing experiences and learnt a lot in my two years so far. I’ve developed my skills in teamwork, co-operation and listening as we work together to create a harmonious sound.
I take part in sustainability activities like Edible Initiative, which grows produce in our school nursery for Women’s Refuge, and I am also a member of Tech Angels. For me, these are just some little ways I can give back to the community when I can to make a positive difference on people, even if it’s in a small way.
Rainbow Rangi [the school’s LGBTQIA+ group) has been a major highlight of my time at Rangi Ruru. Before I joined Rainbow Rangi, I didn’t have a place or a way to fully express my identity, but it has given me a safe place to be myself and openly express and discuss identity.
Rainbow Rangi has made me more accepting of who I am and confident in being myself. In my opinion, it is incredibly important to have a group like Rainbow Rangi in school as it is so beneficial to so many people not only in the group itself, but also others in the school community.
A goal that I have for my life in general is that I want to make as much of an impact as I can and giving back is one way of doing it. I’m always trying to look for ways to make change that make a positive impact and it is something I want to continue for the rest of my life.
I have an interest in science, so I’m thinking of pursuing engineering as a career, as well as keeping up with my sports.