STRENGTH can’t be quantified, but I was reminded of its power recently when I saw a photo of 11 beautiful young women.
Incredibly attractive, all in their twenties with their lives ahead of them they shared a common feature; each had lost one or more limbs and were all wearing metal replacements. Their false arms and legs meant that they could lead as near normal lives as possible and it was patently clear none was going to let their physical impairment stand in the way of their ambition.
Their back stories were varied, some had been born with physical deformities, others had suffered a limb loss to due injury or disease; all had ambition and drive to achieve and were using their talents to shape the lives they wanted.
Sarah Reinertsen is a case in point. Born with a genetic deformity at the age of seven her leg was amputated above the knee.
Undeterred, and a passionate and talented athlete she looked at what she could do rather than what she couldn’t. She started running and broke numerous Paralympic records before turning to triathlon.
The difficulty with triathlons is you have to swim long distance which can be very demanding when you only have one leg. For months she trialled various prosthetic legs, but while she could swim to a lesser degree as well as pulling off her wetsuit she had to pull off her false leg to replace it with her preferred metal leg for the cycling and running disciplines.
Her alternative was to train her body so that she swam using only her arms and left her one remaining leg still. Over the next few months she trained and built her upper body strength so that she could swim for the requisite 1500 metres using only her arms for propulsion. Unconventional, but successful she is now competing against able bodied athletes and is a multi-medal winner around the world.
Her story is like that of so many of the people we support at ubu. Facing limitation they have to assess what their capabilities will allow them to do, then go for it. We never limit their ambition, but encourage them to strive for their goals, providing opportunities and options that will make their achievement more likely and easier.
As they tick one ambition off their list they go on to add more, safe in the knowledge we will be there to support them no matter how ambitious it may seem.