Role Models for Everyone
Everyone needs a role model, someone who stands out as being very special for showing people a better way to live. That’s true in all communities, including for people with a variety of disabilities.
Some people are natural role models. They have great characteristics or they achieve wonderful things, or maybe they just show patience in difficult circumstances. That can be true for any group, but especially among people with disabilities. Life can be difficult, especially for people who struggle with limitations that keep them from doing well in school or holding down a “regular” job. Despite the challenges, many people with various physical and learning disabilities have achieved amazing things and are well known.
For example, Helen Keller became blind and deaf very early in life but later received a university education and became a well-known writer and advocate for the disabled. A modern example of this kind of determination and skill is Stephen Hawking, who has been able to write on scientific subjects and do research despite an illness that has left him in a wheelchair, barely able to move or speak.
Sometimes, people with disabilities can achieve great athletic feats. Terry Fox was a cancer victim who tried to run across Canada to raise money for medical research. Although he died before he was able to complete his run, people across the country still hold Terry Fox runs every year to raise money to try to cure the disease. Another Canadian athlete was Rick Hansen, who decided to cross the country in his wheelchair to raise money for scientific research on spinal cord injuries. Many other athletes have achieved great things despite their limitations.
Sometimes, disabilities are hard to see, but they can still make it difficult for people to keep up with others. The famous scientist Albert Einstein and the inventor Alexander Graham Bell both had learning disabilities which made it difficult for them to succeed in school. Yet Einstein made discoveries that still amaze scientists, and without Alexander Graham Bell, we would have no telephones or any of his other inventions. These scientists were able to overcome the obstacles to their success and to help advance science and technology in many amazing ways.
Even people in public life can succeed despite disabilities. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a disease called polio which left him unable to walk, but he was a very successful president of the United States during the 1930s, when the Great Depression caused economic hardship for many people. The entertainment world also has some amazing stories. For example, the singer Stevie Wonder was blind, and some successful actors have struggled with reading disabilities.
Having a disability is not easy, and sometimes it can seem to make life too overwhelming. Yet problems of many kinds have not stopped people who have managed to overcome their disabilities and to achieve great things. If something in your life is holding you back, maybe you can find a way to overcome it.
Canada Guide. “Famous Canadians.” http://www.thecanadaguide.com/ symbols/famous-canadians/.
Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons. “Previous Hall of Fame Inductees.” http://www.cfpdp.com/cdhf/ PreviousInductees.html.
Carlson, Tiffiny. “10 Majorly Successful People With Disabilities.” https://www.huffingtonpost. com/2013/10/22/famous-people- with-disabilities_n_4142930. html
Hill Country Disabled Group. “The World’s Most Famous Disabled People.” http://hcdg.org/famous.htm.