Leadership expert, William C. Taylor is quoted as saying “Leaders who make a difference are the ones who can rethink what’s possible.” Throughout my entire life, I have benefited from so many who are committed to “rethink what’s possible.”
Inclusive education was not a common approach to learning when I entered elementary school. The education leaders at that time chose to “rethink what’s possible” for a student with a physical disability, spatial learning challenges, nonverbal, pathetic literacy levels and who had perfected the art of tantrums! My educational journey had some bumps in the road and a few naysayers, but the end result was a diploma in Journalism from a community college.
Then against all odds that I would effectively communicate or drive a wheelchair, there were the rehabilitation and technology professionals who said “let’s rethink the possible.” Our path to final solutions had lots of detours and I am the first to admit my wheelchair driving is not perfect (okay… it needs a lot of work!) but I am mobile. My assistive technology is a stroke of genius and allows for my “voice” to be heard. Every day I literally celebrate these leaders.
When the corporate world was not ready to employ an augmentative communication user, there were those who led the way with me to establish Together We Rock! Now, I employ an extraordinary team.
At the moment, I am searching for leaders to “rethink what’s possible” for my independent living. When I get discouraged about the lack of affordable and inclusive living options, I am reminded of the words of the late Randy Pausch “The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out…The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”
I want to live independently in my community very badly… so get ready housing officials and government funders. We need to get better at “rethinking what’s possible” and find a way beyond the brick walls.
As Canada begins to celebrate our 150 birthday, it is not a time to recognize the legacy of so many leaders, young and older, who have helped to create a more accessible and inclusive nation. Whether it is a kindergarten student who invites all of her classmates, regardless of their abilities, to be her friend or a teacher who never loses sight of her belief that all children belong… even on the challenging days or the employer who looked beyond disability and found a skilled and dedicated employee or the entrepreneur who realized that being accessible is good for business or the parent who reads books to their child that promote an acceptance of differences.
These are the leaders that are ensuring a future that is accessible to and inclusive for all Canadians. As a nation we need to continue to “rethink what’s possible”. We are the North Strong and Free. We can do this!
Happy Birthday Canada!