Disability – the opportunity

The daily challenge of helping Chelsea to believe in her future is overwhelming, it requires total positivity often in the face of a world that sees only her “disability” and lack of  potential.  As a middle schooler she is the ultimate outsider whose daily life and struggles to fit in  are both sadly ordinary and unbelievably extraordinary.

In the inspiring video below amputee athlete Aimee Mullins highlights the enormity of the challenge. At the beginning of the video she presents the standard dictionary definitions of the word disabled and explains the devastating impact these words, and the thoughts they evoke can have.  When the world around you sees only “hurt, diseased, damaged, not whole, imperfect, or ailing ”  it is not surprising that it is so hard for Chelsea to be positive about her own future and capability. 

Chelsea is struggling currently to breakthrough her own negativity and she needs to feel accepted and valued by her peers She is desperate for a “normal friend”,  not an adult or her mother, and for that friend to like her for what and who she is. Her poem Just Normal says it all.

And Yet… if we can motivate and encourage her to believe in her glorious  potential anything is possible. If we can first breakthrough the negative perceptions in her own mind  that she is “incapable” and “abnormal” and therefore of limited value or interest, and at the same time educate others, we can empower her true potential and future possibility.

That’s why I advocate for her, and push her everyday, even when she sobs and begs me to let her stay in bed and then cries and tells me she hates me and then refuses to speak to me. I continue to believe that medicine and technology will catch up with her needs to support her to realise her potential in life. That adversity does not bring only challenge it brings the gift of opportunity and will therefore be a springboard to her greatness not something that is holding her back.

What you can do for me is to share the video and help educate and open the minds of others. Help them to be more open to the person in the wheelchair and to see them as people and their disability and adversity not as an insurmountable negative challenge  but as an opportunity and potential springboard to greatness for some really great people,  like Chelsea – my amazing wonderful girl.  

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About Sandra F

Sandra Fairclough has more than 20 years international experience as a senior executive & vice president of a major Fortune 100 media company. She is a working mother who balances her life as a management consultant, speaker and coach with her other roles as a wife and mother to 3 amazing and extraordinary children, one of whom Chelsea is a C1/C2 tracheostomy ventilated quadriplegic.
This entry was posted in Children, Disability, Family, School and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Disability – the opportunity

  1. Sandra F says:

    Sandy Innes Hill – Chelsea’s 6th grade teacher said the following:
    My favorite quotes from the video:
    Our responsibility is not shielding those we care about from adversity, but preparing them to meet it well.
    We need to be sure we don’t put the first brick in the wall of actually disabling someone.
    Acknowledge the wholeness of a person – you are effectively grading someone’s worth to society.
    Adversity gives us a sense of self. A sense of our own power.
    I’ve been exposed to more people who have opened doors for me.
    If you can hand someone a key…….you’re teaching them to open doors for themselves.
    The only true disability is a crushed spirit.

  2. Pingback: Just Normal…now that would be amazing | Mom on the Side

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