"Just keep on trying because you never know, you can become the best in the world," said Toronto Community Housing resident and Parapan Am gold medalist, Jason Roberts, when asked about advice he would give to youth wanting to try out for sports.
After years of trying out for various sports teams, countless hours of practicing and waiting for the right opportunity, Jason's hard work is finally paying off.
This summer, Jason had the opportunity to represent Canada in the Parapan Am Games.
Veronica smiles proudly with her son Jason.
The 19-year old won gold in F32-34 men's shot put after achieving a personal best toss of 10.33 metres.
"I still can't believe that I won gold. It has been a month since Parapan Am and it still seems surreal," said Jason.
Since his win at the Parapan Am Games, people living and working in his community have praised his achievements.
"I am so happy for Jason and his family. This is a great thing for the community and Toronto Community Housing to know that we have a world-class athlete living in one of this community," said Roselind Panton, a Senior Superintendent with Toronto Community Housing.
His mother says knew from the very beginning that he would win the gold medal. She watched Jason spend the past year preparing for the Parapan Am Games.
"Jason trained seven days a week. I told him with hard work anything is possible," said Veronica.
The journey to gold was a long, but rewarding one. In the past, he had problems even with balancing and walking without support.
"I used to walk off-balance and did not really want to do anything," admitted Jason, when he spoke about the challenges of living with a disability.
"When Jason immigrated to Canada from Grenada, I had to quit my job to take care of him. I did not think twice about quitting my job. I had to be there for my son," said Veronica.
With that support from his mother and others, Jason's road to winning the gold medal started in high school.
"In Grade 10, I started to play discus, javelin throw and shot put with my classmates, and by Grade 11 I had started to play competitively," said Jason.
Jason showing off the gold medal that he won in F32-34 men's shot put during the 2015 Parapan Am Games.�
Jason thanks his coaches, and his elementary and high school teachers for encouraging him, finding him sponsors, and pushing him to try out for the national team. Because of their support, he says he is a more confident athlete.
Jason is now preparing to participate in the World Championships later this year and hopes to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil.
��Read more about active living in Toronto Community Housing and how youth can get involved in sports.