Monday, December 14, 2015

Job interviews and disability

First of all, I would like to apologize for the long hiatus. Today's post is related to the reason for which I've been absent from posting for such a long time. I just didn't have any more free time and I really like to take my time and put all of my ideas in order when I write a post, so it's easy and enjoyable to read for everyone. So why have I been absent? I got a job!!! A full time awesome job which makes me feel complete.

But before getting the job (which is within a huge IT corporation), I faced many many interviews which ended with "Thank you for coming, we will call you soon to give you an answer." I found out that it can be pretty tricky to get a job as someone who has a physical disability even though my resume was flawless, I studied abroad and I had strong knowledge in my field. Everything seemed to be against me. But with every interview, I learned what I should say and not say when confronted about my condition... because most of the interviewers did ask me questions. They're not asking to be impolite or curious, but it's important to know if a future employee will be suitable for the position in every possible way, from a HR point of view. And there are some things which must be kept in mind:

1. Be confident 

 Don't freak out when they ask about your condition/wheelchair. Calmly explain that it will not get in the way of your daily activity and that it does not affect your productivity. If they see you that you're nervous, they might think that you are trying to make it seem as something that it's not, and it will make you look like someone who easily lose their calm. Smile, keep your head up and calmly answer all of their questions BUT don't go overboard: keep it real. Don't tell them that you can do things that you can not actually do on your own, because the lie will surface sooner or later and it will come back to get you. But since you're there, it would make sense that you know exactly what you will be dealing with day by day and that you know that you can handle everything.

2. Don't act defensive 

 I know lots of people get offended when asked about their condition. Remember that the employer must know for sure that they are hiring people who can do the job. Not everyone knows exactly what you can do and what you can not do only by looking at you. Issues such as moving around the office, commuting to/from work or going to the bathroom (which if you can not handle on your own I believe that you can have your personal assistant help you with, but it depends on the country and company).

3. Focus on your skills

If you were invited to the interview then you should have the necessary skills for the job and what you should do is present those skills the best you can. Make your value as an employer shine, and most interviewers won't even care anymore about your condition. A valuable set of skills is so important these days! And nothing else will matter...

And with these being said, good luck! Don't lose hope if you don't get a job on the first try, it took me 1 full year. Keep trying and trying and you will not regret it. Believe in yourself and everyone else will do too!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Adaptive sports and the Paralympic Games

The combination of terms “limited mobility” is pretty much self explanatory. And most of the time it leads to a not too physically active life for most of us, which is so bad for our health. The good news is that there are tons of sports designed for people with limited mobility, and depending on the way your limbs are affected, you should have enough choices. It’s a great way to pass the time, it will improve your health and it will give you a sense of achievement, making you feel more independent, it will reduce your stress level by making your brain release more endorphins, it will reduce the pain and many more awesome benefits. Who knows, maybe we will even see you at the Olympics! So let’s take a look at 3 of the most well known options. Hopefully this post will help you decide what you should start with.

1. Paralympic Swimming

As the name states, it is a sport governed by the International Paralympic Committee, so it’s also part of the Paralymic games. But of course, it can be practiced by anyone and at any level (starting with beginner, of course). Physical disabilities of Paralympic swimmers include single or multiple limb loss (through birth defects and/or amputation),cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries (leading to paralysis or disability in limb coordination), dwarfism, and disabilities which impair the use of joints. So if you think this is the right sport for you, stop wondering how you’ll manage to not drown due to the limited mobility of your limbs, and start looking for a place where you can safely practice it. Swimming is great! And you’ll be less scared of boat rides too!
Famous athlete: Eleanor May Simmonds (photo), is a British Paralympian swimmer competing in S6 events. She came to national attention when she competed in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, winning two gold medals for Great Britain, despite being the youngest member of the team, at the age of 13. In 2012 she was again selected for the Great Britain squad, this time swimming at a home games in London. She won another two golds in London, including setting a World Record in the 400m freestyle.

2. Wheelchair racing

We have marathons, car racing, motorbike racing… so why not wheelchair racing? Even though the racing wheelchair may look slightly different from what you’re used with… but if you’re bound to use one and think that your arms and spirit are strong enough for the competition, why not look into it? Wheelchair racing is open to athletes with any qualifying type of disability, amputees, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and partially sighted (when combined with another disability). Athletes are classified in accordance with the nature and severity of their disability or combinations of disabilities. Like running, it can take place on a track or as a road race. The main competitions take place at the Summer Paralympicswhich wheelchair racing and athletics has been a part of since 1960. Competitors compete in specialized wheelchairs which allow the athletes to reach speeds of 30 km/h or more. It is one of the most prominent forms of Paralympic athletics.
Famous athlete: David Russell Weir (photo), CBE (born 5 June 1979) is a British Paralympic wheelchair athlete. He has won a total of six gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games, and has won the London Marathon on six occasions. He was born with a spinal cord transection that left him unable to use his legs.

3. Wheelchair Basketball

If you’re a fan of basketball and wish that you could practice it, there actually is a version of it which can be practiced by people in wheelchairs. The rules are pretty much the same and it is as dynamic as you would expect basketball to be. Wheelchair basketball sees tremendous competition and interest on the international level. Wheelchair basketball is included in the Paralympic Games. The Wheelchair Basketball World Championship is organized two years after every Paralympic Games. Major competition in wheelchair basketball comes from Canada, Australia, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Japan.
Famous Athlete: Ade Adepitan (photo) MBE (born 27 March 1973) is a British television presenter and wheelchair basketball player. He uses a wheelchair as a result of contracting polio as a child which led to the loss of use of his left leg. Adeptitan is an accomplished wheelchair basketball player, for his club Milton Keynes Aces and as a member of Great Britain team that won the bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens and the gold medal at the 2005 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Disabled punk band PKN representing Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Even though this blog is targeted mainly towards people with physical disabilities, today I will make an exception and write about an event which caught my eye recently and made me extremely happy: the Finnish punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (English: Pertti Kurikka's Name Day), also known as PKN was chosen to participate at the Eurovision music contest, in May.

So now you will wonder, what’s so special about this band and what does it have to do with my blog? The members all have the Down’s Syndrome – a genetic disorder typically associated with intellectual disability. And it is the first time this happens at Eurovision, which means one step forward to acceptance and support for people with disabilities worldwide. 

They are famously known for being the main focus of the Finnish documentary film The Punk Syndrome. In 2015, they qualified for the finals of Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu, which they later won, and now finally they will be part of a major European Music contest - Eurovision! They write their own lyrics and perform often live on the stage. 

These guys are a reminder that it doesn’t matter what you’re being told about stereotypes and how “generally” you will have to fight your way through life having a disability. They achieved much more than most of the non-disabled people, while doing something they clearly enjoy doing. 

So this year, I know who I’m voting for. Not out of sympathy, but the truth is I really do like these guys! The last time I voted for these guys was in 2006, when Lordi won. As you probably realized already, I love rock and punk music and Finland delivers once more. Thank you, Finland and thank you PKN for being awesome and showing the world that disability means nothing when your only wish is to conquer the world! I really hope you guys win, you deserve it!