Honoring the Leonie Jackson Community Spirit Award

On January 17, 2021, the Deaf Community and the Deaf Sporting Community lost a very important member and leader. Leonie Jackson died after a drowning accident on the NSW South Coast. She had just celebrated turning 50 the night before where she was surrounded by family and friends giving their love and joy.

Leonie was someone who gave a lot. She was known for being a generous person. She gave her time, energy and passion. She also gave creativity and ideas which is where her sign name came from.

Leonie gave a lot of support to Deaf Sports NSW while she was the CEO of the Deaf Society, one of which was by giving them access to the Parramatta offices for their meetings.

Leonie strongly believed in the power of sport to unite people and to bring young deaf people together. She was also passionate about the education of deaf children being a qualified teacher and strongly motivated by a desire to give her own two children (one of whom is deaf) access to the world around them. She often said “it takes a village to raise a child”, so she was keen to support and encourage events that brought the Deaf Community together.

Her passions, generosity of time and willingness to lead, led her to be involved in the Australian Deaf Games over several years. She was on the Games Organising Committee for the 2018 Australian Deaf Games. She then became the convenor of the Games Organising Committee for the 2024 Australian Deaf Games. Her leadership of these games was sadly cut short by her sudden death.

During the 2024 Australian Deaf Games, her spirit will live on. We will carry her spirit with us as we join with other deaf people to compete, socialise and put on a significant event for the Deaf Community in Australia and the Pacific. We can carry her spirit with us as we welcome deaf people who are participating for the first time. Maybe they have not yet found their village. We can be role models for young deaf people who might be isolated in their home communities. We can show a generous and friendly spirit as we cheer and support each other to do our best individually but also for our team. We can support and encourage developing leaders like Leonie would have done.

To honor Leonie’s spirit, Deaf Sports Australia will be awarding the Leonie Jackson Community Spirit Award to an individual for the first time at these games and for all future Australian Deaf Games.

More information about the Award can be found at https://austdeafgames.org.au/games-awards/