Rethinking Disability and Inspiration

Twenty six year old Alex Roca is just a normal young man with a passion for endurance sports, in his own opinion. Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, he is set to participate in the Titan Desert, a six-day mountain bike race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco. He says his biggest inspiration has been his brother, as watching him participate in triathlons motivated him to try it for himself. He has already participated in at least three other long-distance races, and has gained the admiration and support of many, including former Barça coach  Pep Guardiola.

So, what makes Alex particularly newsworthy? He has Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a spectrum neurological disorder which affects fine motor, gross motor and balance skills. Sometimes speech abilities are also impacted.

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As a result of his disability, Alex has been called a “fighter”, inspirational and heroic. However, I think that is wrong. Yes he has overcome obstacles in his lifetime to be able to get to this point, but who hasn’t? There is not one person on this planet who has lived a perfect, idyllic life free of strife. We have all, or will all,  overcome our own unique challenges at some point. As a young, disabled woman, I am passionate about this perspective. In fact, I have Cerebral Palsy like Alex.

Perhaps it seems that I am trying to diminish Alex’s feat; I am not. It is still impressive, by all means. Rather, I am advocating for Alex. Earlier on I said that he considers himself a normal young person with a passion. By dubbing him inspirational for doing something he loves, members of the media and society are reinforcing stereotypes of people. Alex is not the only disabled person working towards becoming accomplished in his passions, hopes and dreams. The rest of us are also working toward a goal. And, while we don’t want to be pitied or discriminated against, we also don’t want special treatment in the form of being generalized as special or inspirational. It doesn’t make sense.

We are just people trying to live our best lives, just like you. All we want is equity. Equity means a fair chance to prove ourselves. Though extra attention like this article does help us get there, it is high time society changes its ableist perspective. To the potentially able-bodied people reading this, remember, we are just like you, just as average and uninspiring as you!

 

For more on Alex: https://www.thelocal.es/20171228/young-man-with-cerebral-palsy-to-cross-sahara-desert-alex-roca

 

 

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