My goal with BoyWithoutLegs is to create openness and awareness of the topic of disability. In an effort to create an environment of acceptance and removing lingering feelings of fear. Additionally, give disabled people a feeling of empowerment.
Growing up as a disabled child I didn’t have any disabled role models. I wasn’t aware of any disabled books for children. My main contact with other disabled people was the Shriner’s hospital which I attended periodically for short visits usually lasting a day and no longer than 3 weeks.
The exposure at the hospital wasn’t enough to give me a sense of security in the outside world but within it’s walls it did allow me to be completely free to act without fear of being different.
Removing fear is important. I have written a story poem called BoyWithoutLegs goes to the store which depicts a very real experience I have had with parents and children. Children have a natural curiosity but parents often create a fear in their kids preventing them to talk to me. In creating a fear it does not allow the curiosity to be satisfied and it may turn into distrust or shame. I would like to encourage kids to talk with others of all types and learn we are all people in different and wonderful ways and no matter what we look like we have similarities we can share and differences we can learn from and embrace.
Ultimately, acceptance is what many people desire. It’s not solely about missing legs or a few fingers. It’s about people looking at another person and appreciating them for their struggle, their differences, their knowledge they have gained from experiencing life differently.
If their is a forum where we pursue knowledge of others we can learn so much more. There are routines I do regularly to make tasks easier. Maybe I started doing something without knowing any other way. But as a community we can share these ideas and maybe everyone can contribute.
Also having a role model is important for anyone growing up. It gives children a relatable character to look up to and even strive to be. Without this a child can feel lost and without purpose. I am proud to say that I have been contacted by several people looking for a role model. And I’m happy to give them a direction. Ultimately, my message is that we have all the tools to be who we want to be but we just have to be brave enough to use them.
If I can inspire a person to say “hey I can do that” then I have made a difference.