Welcome to Spring '20 Scholarship



Topic: Please submit a 'visual poem', in a style of your choosing, on the theme of overcoming a personal challenge.

Statement from 1800wheelchair

1800wheelchair is very proud to announce the winner of our Spring '20 scholarship contest. With well over 500 entries, this one stood apart for its compelling story.

Winning Submission (Personal Statement):

My poem, titled, “Good Riddance” is a testament to my self-love journey as an amputee. It has not been an easy road, nor a short one for that matter. However, I am incredibly proud of myself and my progress. My name is Kenzie Paul, and I am going to be a freshman next semester at the University of Notre Dame. I am unsure of my major, but I know I want a high-impact career. My dream job is working for Paralympics so I can be around other members of the limb different community. The initial three lines of the poem create a sense of irony regarding the outrageous cost of self-acceptance. I have realized sometimes happiness is not exceedingly expensive, if you know where to find it. After sixteen years, I found it within myself. It was a few months before this realization I attended Lucky Fin Project Weekend, which is an event that unites people from around the world with upper limb differences. This was the first time I had ever been around people who resemble me, knew my pain, and empathized with what I was going through. I met people who defied all odds and radiated confidence like I had never seen. The power of representation to a girl who feels unwhole cannot be underestimated. I imagined what my life would be like if I were that lucky, and piece by piece, I stitched up my brokenness.

As the following three lines convey, I found peace and serenity in my new outlook on life. Lucky Fin Project showed me the value in humility, in knowing you are not perfect, but nonetheless, good enough. No better and no less than anyone else, just equal. I felt like I was ripping off the restraints society placed on me. Disabled people are supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way, and most importantly, they are supposed to wish they are not disabled. I decided to throw away these stereotypes because my identity is not labeled by other people. It is okay to be more than my arm, it is okay to love my body, and it is okay to act on my own desires.

The last couplet is a summary of my two mantras. Firstly, beauty is not packaged uniformly. Just because something like my body is not standard, it does not mean it is ugly. Beauty is not bound to any certain feature and is conveyed in a variety of forms. Secondly, growth is nonlinear. This keeps my head up when I have bad days. I still go through times where I hide my arm or get upset over an ignorant comment. I have realized I am elevated by the fact that I can show my left side in photos or address people who stare. It has taken years for me to be able to even talk openly about my disability, which is progress beyond measure.

Just because others aim to bring me down, I do not have to treat myself in the same way. Regardless of my amputation, I am a whole person. Not only am I whole, but I am unique, I am enough, and I am beautiful. Although I cannot put a price on self-acceptance, it is worth more than anything I could ever dream of possessing. My story is a commencement to a free life, barren of pity and intolerance.

Winning Submission (Poem): Good Riddance

How much does self-acceptance cost?

Is it an arm and a leg

Or just an arm?

Disabled does not mean a half-life

I am whole.

No longer in internal strife

I do not deserve the toll.

Beauty comes in all shapes

And growth is not linear.