Making the Impossible Possible

I am not sure where exactly it came from but I always had the drive and determination to achieve anything I set my mind to do, regardless of the limitations and barriers that were in my way. It was not until I was involved in European Human Bridges (EHB), the European disabled and non-disabled youth project I have previously discussed, that I fully realised anything was possible.

EHB was run as an informal organisation of like-minded leaders across Europe, who worked together to bring disabled and non-disabled people together for week to 10 day long seminars, funded by Council of Europe and European Union. An example of our seminars was the one we ran on the black sea coast in Romania in 2002 on the issue of Disability and Sport.

It is important to understand at that time, and still probably now, Romania is not very accessible and the hotel where we were staying had a lot to desire. But the whole ethos of EHB was about overcoming barriers and so our motto was ‘Making the Impossible Possible’, because together and with our combined determination, we seemed to overcome any barriers to achieving a successful seminar, including the many unexpected difficulties that arose.

The motto of ‘Making the Impossible Possible’ has stuck with me and remains central to my own working ethos. I strongly believe if you really want something, it is possible to get it but you have to put in the work and commitment to achieve the impossible and make it possible. This means as a disabled person, while I will always campaign for better and easier access to various opportunities, I can not let that stop me achieving what I want right now.

I need to take responsibility for what I wish to achieve and I can not just sit moaning for opportunities to be made easier because I am not willing to put in any effort to get what I want. If you have a negative outlook in life, of course you are going to fail. People need to be positive to be able to be successful in what they wish to achieve and I understand some people will need specific support to see the brighter side of life at specific times.

I have found some disability activists find it difficult to accept the need for a positive attitude and are wary when the achievements of disabled people are celebrated, especially by the government, calling such things as ‘aspirational porn’, particularly the government’s recent Disability Confident employment campaign. While I can understand people often put disabled people unnecessarily on a pedestal to reinforce the notion of ‘other’ from deep rooted pity, it is important we celebrate what disabled people have achieved and can achieve on an equal basis to non-disabled people, as well as promoting a positive attitude to manage the here and now, as oppose to waiting for a disability utopia that may never arrive in our lifetime.

I am proud of my many achievements, which any of my non-disabled peers could be envious of, because I have made the most of my opportunities provided to me, and many of the opportunities that were supposedly inaccessible to me. I have always done what I wanted, taking responsibility for my actions, because I was determined I was not going to let my impairments or any other difficulty get in my way. I know that I have a level of determination some people genuinely find breath taking, and I think if people can be supported to have just a fraction of my determination, they could make the impossible possible in the way that works for them.

Being aspirational is not something that should be feared or sneered at as some patronising nonsense, but rewarded and celebrated as the foundation of positive change. Everything in the world throughout history has only been achieved because someone was willing to make the impossible possible, broadening our horizons, our expectations and our abilities.

What will you do today to make the impossible possible?

from Simon Stevens


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