I discovered what the word progress means to me through the design process. Turning a cool idea from a drawing on paper into a real working thing takes hard work and failure. When you come up with a great idea, you have to put a lot of time into making it really work. When ideas fail, you may want to quit, but if you push through that feeling and are willing to put in even more time and effort, your work might be rewarded. I say might because the progress of building and designing is tricky. You have to keep putting in the time to turn a great idea into something real.
“You have to keep putting in the time to turn a great idea into something real.”
I was only ten when I came up with a fun invention that caught the attention of the world: a prosthetic arm that shoots biodegradable glitter. I realized putting all the hard work into designing something can bring joy and even make progress in changing the conversation around the disability community. I got invited to speak to journalists, at events and even visit schools to talk about how people with disabilities see the world in different ways.
This led me and my mom to start a nonprofit for kids with physical disabilities called Born Just Right. We help kids learn design skills to create ideas based on their own life experiences. Our work has been on display in museums and shown off in magazines and on news programs. I even had a chance to help make progress on an issue that mattered a lot to me when I was little: making sure limb differences are represented in mainstream dolls.
I set up an online petition to encourage more physical disabilities in dolls. This led to the opportunity where I got to sit down with the designers of Barbie dolls. Not only did I get to explain my life experiences as a person with one hand, I got to help them understand more about prosthetics. Our conversations made it possible for Barbie to release a doll that wears a prosthetic leg!
I then went on to write a book about my experiences. I wrote Born Just Right because so many people were interested in my story, and I didn’t see enough conversations about disabilities in middle school books. My mom and I spent so many hours writing the book. I’m super proud of the stories I could share. I was only in fifth grade at the time! The most powerful experience I had releasing the book was during some of my book signings. I love seeing the joy my story brings to both kids and adults.
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