Courage is defined as "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulties or danger without fear."

This is a necessary part of the inner being for all of us living with disabilities.  I know that courage is a trait everyone aspires to reach, but for us, it is the only way to achieve success.  Living with a disability in life means we are frequently fighting battles in our lives – we need to become armed with courage. 

I am always saddened by the way people with disabilities are made to feel weak or passive by our society and sometimes by those who are close to us. Others, such as parents, teachers, and peers, encourage feeling inferior or abnormal, when they should be teaching empowerment and independence.

Many young people with disabilities in my Bender Leadership Academy share with me stories about how they are told they will not make it. They are told to accept the hand dealt them…not a good hand. Many of those young people tell me how their own family sometimes is "holding them back." Many of them would like to attend a college that is not in their own city; they are frequently told they would not make it without a major support system.

We, as individuals with disabilities need to have courage, stand tall, stand independently and not accept anything but reaching our full potential.

10 Courage Steps for You:

1. Get back your "muchness"!  It all starts with you believing in you!

2. Live life as a person of power!  There is absolutely no reason for you to not project power.

3. Be independent!  Do not allow anyone to make you dependent.  You need to learn to do things on your own.

4. Be you! Do not try to be someone other than who you are!

5. Raise your hand!  Participate!  Do not ever cower in the background.

6. Get a mentor! Find a good role model!

7. Read biographies!  I have found that reading about others who were courageous, like Lincoln or Ghandi is inspiring.

8. Volunteer!  When you serve in the community and meet others, it really helps to build confidence that leads to courage to step out in the world.

9. Do not listen to negative or cruel people!  Every day, remind yourself of how strong you are and make friends that build, not destroy.

10.  Never give up!  This is not a one day courage builder it is a journey- courage means you never, ever give up!

Courage!  You can be all that you can be!

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