New Belonging: Bebe Vio
It's a summer of sport. But wheelchair fencer Bebe Vio doesn't see two events. She has a vision for one. Where athletes of every ability share the biggest stage, together.
At age 11, Bebe Vio's life changed after contracting meningitis. But through sport, she found a platform to express herself, and a voice that is making the world change its attitude towards athletes everywhere. We spoke with Bebe about her vision for the future, inspiring a generation around her and how sport doesn't belong to a chosen few, it belongs to anyone who plays.
Can you tell us the feeling of the first time you played any sport?
BEBE: The first time I stepped foot in a fencing gym, it was amazing because of the sound of the weapons: one against the other, the smell of the gym and the smell of the sweat. And listening to all the screaming of the people—it was amazing. What I felt was all these goosebumps.
"The first time I stepped foot in a fencing gym, it was amazing ... what I felt was all these goosebumps".
– Bebe Vio
You've talked about how sport can give young people belief. What is it about sport that does this, and what can it teach us?
BEBE: I think the most amazing thing about sport is the fact that it can create an amazing team and amazing group of people around you. Who start as your team, but they're going to be part of your family in some way. And so, if you're young, if you're old, whatever age—sport is the best thing ever because it can create a real family around you. I used to pay attention more to the younger generation because starting from them, you can have a culture shift, but for sure, sport is for everybody.
"If you're young, if you're old, whatever age—sport is the best thing ever because it can create a real family around you".
– Bebe Vio
The spotlight was mostly on non-disabled athletes, but you've completely changed that and inspired a new generation of athletes to believe. How do we keep that mindset going?
BEBE: When I was young, I began with stand-up fencing, so I was non-disabled. And then when I was 13 years old, I began with Paralympic sport. And in there, I found a completely new world in some way, but the emotion was the same, the feeling was the same and the group was probably even better. So it doesn't matter if you're non-disabled or disabled. The important thing is that you can create an amazing way of being through sport, and that can help you so much.
"I found a completely new world in some way, but the emotion was the same, the feeling was the same and the group was probably even better".
– Bebe Vio
What is it about sport that unifies us?
BEBE: It has every kind of person. Because sport is made from people, it's made from athletes. I think the best thing ever is that in Parasport in particular, every athlete has a completely different story before being part of the track, being on the football pitch.
I love being a Para-athlete, just because I love the world in which I'm living, and I love knowing all the stories of every kind of athlete.
"I love being a Para-athlete, just because I love the world in which I'm living, and I love knowing all the stories of every kind of athlete".
– Bebe Vio
Director: Vittoria Elena Simone @vittoriaelenasimone Photographer: Dali Geralle @dali.ggallery Photographer: Carolina Di Lazzaro @carolinadilazzaro