United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities
In a world that often demands conformity, the journey of living with hidden disabilities is one that unfolds with rarely seen courage and resilience.
It is certainly not always rainbows and butterflies.
And while superhuman strength is required to thrive in a world not built for you, it is more often dressed in gritted teeth, a deep breath, and headphones, than a flashy cape.
The Bravery of Showing Up
To face a world that may not always understand or accommodate you requires bravery that goes beyond the surface. It's about showing up every day despite (or maybe in spite) of all the barriers that stand in your way.
This resilience becomes a source of empowerment, a quiet rebellion against a world that may not always see the inner battles being fought.
FutureTech: Nurturing Brilliance
FutureTech is a place where the perspectives of neurodivergent young people are the most important in the room.
It's within the walls of this special place that I see small but significant changes in our participants as they start to build self-confidence, resilience, knowledge of who they are, and courage to decide how they want to show up in the world.
The smallest 'door slam' to alert his sound sensitive peers, spoken by a participant who didn't used to know that sudden loud sounds make him anxious too.
The 'I am getting a bit overwhelmed now' by a participant who a few months ago would find it hard to let us know this before it had reached a point where a meltdown was imminent.
Love Beyond Words
And the love they have for each other, for their families and for us. It is often shared without speaking words.
Two kids sitting side by side playing games in mostly silence, sharing the most precious gifts of space and time.
A meme, that I rarely understand, can bring them together with smiles and shared joy.
A coat offered to another who is cold shares comfort.
A tight squeeze when one is feeling overwhelmed shares pain.
Love is, and can be shared through more than spoken words.
The Honour of Knowing Them
Their brains blow me away.
I am constantly in complete wonder at their incredible ideas, creations, tinkering, testing, and trying things out. I am always inspired by the things they know, are curious about and care so deeply about.
I feel I am always learning about them and from them - often shocked but never surprised by their insights about the world, people, and things.
It is honestly the greatest privilege to be trusted enough by them to allow me to get to know them. An honor that is treated as such - and appreciated accordingly.
The Origin Story: Growing Up with Sam
My journey into this realm of disability and neurodivergence started early in life, growing up with my insanely gifted (and unlikely to let you forget it! ;) ) brother, Sam.
While I have always been acutely aware of the injustices in the world, I often felt lost in the noise and the lack of progress in fixing it. Here, the realization dawned on me that young minds, often possessing different ways of thinking, could be the architects of solutions to complex global issues.
FutureTech: Where Dreams Take Flight
With this realization, FutureTech was conceived—a platform where the incredible ideas, creations, and insights of neurodivergent young people could be harnessed for the greater good.
It's a place where their unique brains, filled with curiosity and a deep sense of care, can thrive and contribute to a world that often struggles to understand their brilliance.
United in Action: SDGs and International Day of People with Disability
The theme of this year's IDPwD, 'United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities,' seems so fitting.
This term, coincidently, one of our FutureTech groups has been learning about the SDGs. We have explored solutions to big complex challenges, been inspired by innovators and inventors who are doing this work, and considered what power we each have to make a positive impact in the world around us.
Diversity is the Answer to Complexity
FutureTech is a dream of a better future for everyone, built with the hands, hearts, and minds of neurodivergent people. But we all have a role to play in building this future.
We all have a responsibility in helping our young people realize and utilize their unique skills and perspectives in making a positive impact in the world.
I have always believed that the answer to complexity lies within diversity.
And if we have any hope of achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we are going to need the voices, perspectives, and innovations of people who see the world differently.
People who don’t fit neatly in a box, or colour within the lines.
People who are brave enough to stand up and tell the world that the box is not good enough. With the courage to build new, better boxes - or spheres or triangles or hexagons!
The world needs people like my brother. People like our amazing participants. People like our incredible team of mentors and; people like me.
We are here to build the future, and together - we can build it for everyone.