Sunday, September 7, 2008

Stop & Think

I don’t read the paper much these days. Today I made an exception and am glad I did. An article particularly stood out and made me think about our actions and reactions. This guy Kevin Connolly was born without legs – you may have read the story in the Star weekender section today. He has spent the last year travelling around the world on his skateboard (his preferred mode of transport over a wheelchair) shooting pictures of people from literally his hip. All the pictures are taken in rolling motion and without the knowledge of the passerby. Throughout his travels he experienced a mixture of reactions from people seeing his disability; most reveal horror, sadness and sympathy at what they are seeing. I am sure this is only short-lived but one picture stuck in my mind. Is that the look I show when I see someone so physically different to the norm or when faced with a beggar on the street? I hope not. Do I turn away and ignore what I saw out the corner of my eye? Or do I just stare? These are all human reactions we do without thinking, because even as adults we still do not know the “correct” way to react and respond. Well the correct reaction and response that Kevin Connolly is looking for is nothing. Different in the fact he has no legs, inside he is the same as you and I.
Kevin Connolly does not want sympathy, nor is he a beggar looking for donations or handouts although when travelling through the Ukraine people ignored his refusal of handouts and “shoved money in his backpack”. He has won a silver medal at the 2007 X-games Monoski* event, and his story is one of true inspiration for his ability to let us see the world from his perspective and for not letting the fact that just because he has a disability does not make him and his desire to dream and achieve goals any different from you or I.
For more information and to view the photo-exhibition check out his site at
*A Monoski is a skiing device for people with limited use of their legs, such as people with spinal cord injuries, spina bifida or double leg amputations.

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