Yes we can!
I can still recall the feeling when doctors confirmed my parent’s worst fear. That my unsteady walking and lack of hand grip wasn’t just laziness or a phase but a lifelong disability. I can remember being given the worst-case scenario. Sitting in a doctor office as an eight-year-old being told all the things that I would likely never do. Like finish school, go to university or get a job. Then came the hardest part…
‘It is possible he could be wheelchair bound any time after his eleventh birthday’
There are still days now when I picture eight-year-old me leaving that office and the feeling that my hopes and dreams for the future were gone.
This year marks seventeen years since that day. And thanks to a lot of support and encouragement I’m happy to say that not only did I finish school, but I earned a band six and two band fives in my final exam. I didn’t just ‘go’ to university, in my last year of an undergraduate social work degree I was offered a place in the honours program because of my high performance. And this August will mark two years since I started my dream job that now sees me spending my days supporting other people to break down their barriers.
My journey is not a unique one. Every day I meet inspirational individuals who are challenging the status quo. And whilst it isn’t always easy, I’m proud to take up the fight and advocate for those who are far too often ignored.
For inspiration I have a poster in my bedroom. It’s of President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Back when he was the underdog, and many viewed “yes we can” as a pipe dream. Every morning I look at that poster and remind myself “yes we can”
Yes we can – challenge the barriers to equality
Yes we can – fight against discrimination
Yes we can – continue to work towards our personal goals
Yes we can – never give up
I don’t know what will happen in the coming years. My disability is an unknown and there are still days when I need to use a wheelchair for safety. But for the most part I can mobilise with my handy walking stick.
And this year I will celebrate not only a quarter of a century alive but fourteen years of proving my doctors wrong.