By Guest Blogger, John Robinson
I have been asked in many conversations, “Why did I title my autobiography ‘Get Off Your Knees: A Story of Faith, Courage, and Determination?” I point out – Get Off Your Knees has become my personal mission statement. I was an uninspired young adult in need of motivation, just like many young people today.
In college, one night a woman looked down at me and must’ve thought I was holding up a line we were standing in together. She took a quick glance, looked at the line and took another glance at me and yelled if I get off my knees our line would move a lot faster. It was a funny statement at the time but became much more.
My mission is to stand up to any obstacle in front of me. As a person with a physical disability, a congenital amputee and 3’9″ tall-I am faced with different physical obstacles from most other people. On a daily basis, I’m faced with items I can’t reach, limited mobility, the need for adaptive equipment as well as a society unaccustomed to physically different people. All of these obstacles can seem daunting to outsiders and for a long time to me.
I am proud to say I’ve learned how to overcome obstacles in an able-bodied world. I have developed a good sense of problem solving which has certainly helped in my business career. My problem-solving comes directly from overcoming physical obstacles.
I look around society today and see many challenges for youth. There are bad influences, low employment levels and a general lack of educational interest. Young people need to be inspired through education to find a way through today’s world.
According to the 2009 statewide New York State Education Department report card, the New York State graduation rate for 2008-09 was reported to be 74%. Over one quarter of New York State youth do NOT graduate high school. Within students identifying themselves as having a disability, the graduation rate is a staggering 45%. What an unbelievable problem!
When I speak to students, I see students looking for a path they can follow. They are seeking leadership and inspiration. They want to believe education is important. It is hard to find for students today. If we as adults are troubled by the economy and society, it’s a sure bet that students are as well.
Recently MSNBC highlighted a young woman – Kiera Brinkley – who lost all four limbs due to a blood infection as a child. “She was eager to go to school, ready to try anything,” her mother stated in the article. This is the kind of message students – all students – need to hear. It can only help raise the 74% graduation rate to a better percentage!
For me, overcoming obstacles meant getting and using my education. I am proud of what I have learned and hope to continue to share the message with students, educators and businesses. “Get Off Your Knees” has been my mission statement and a positive message to many. I hope it continues to inspire people that we all have the ability to stand up to obstacles in front of us.
To aspiring authors, I urge you to Get Off Your Knees and stand-up to the challenge of telling your story. You are your best motivation and inspiration. There is a world out there ready to share your experiences; all it takes is your effort!