When I became 25, my life divided into “before” and “after”.    

We played soccer at a summer camp and I was a goalie. I wanted to stretched up using the goal gates. It happened to be not secured to the ground and I crashed to the ground along with the gates. Cervical fraction. 

The first thing that I did upon gaining conscience, I called my wife and apologized to her and the daughter for standing them up.

I was literally dragged from the other side in the hospital. My relatives were told to prepare for the worst, no one lives with an injury like this. But I lived.

I didn’t immediately realize that my life is expected to be in a wheel-chair. I presumed that it’s just like any other fracture, will heal, and I will be back to order. Realization of the opposite was scary. For the quarter of my life I lived as a healthy athlete, and then became disabled.  I closed up, refused to go outside, I thought that I am being stared at by everyone. I fell into a real depression.

Although we were unable to keep our marriage, my wife said “We haven’t fought for you so you can give up and think of living this life. You have a daughter to give an example to”.

At that time, unexpectedly, I got interested in YouTube and decided to start my own channel. I named it “Step forward”. I simply became to record the moment of my life. It was very scary at first, and a bit shameful, but I received so much support from the subscribers, that I understood that people are ready to accept me for who I am. It was the first step to my new life.

There are not many active disabled people who life to the fullest, go to movies, coffee shops, museums- perhaps only 3%. Most just close down and stay at home.     

You can’t convince them. No motivational speakers help, or hypnosis, or preachers. A person has to come to a realization. In one moment the realization can come after hearing an odd phrase.

For me, this moment came when my daughter, who played basketball, said “pop, I won’t train here. This court is not good.” And I said, “okay, then let’s just start changing things ourselves.”. We grabbed a can with paint, a brush, and slowly started fixing things up. Out of nowhere, I painted on a board “value what you have”. This phrase grew into an annual festival of street athletics and my non-profit organization. Then I got an idea to record an address to president with a plea to fund new athletic grounds. A response was received by a mayor of our city. The grounds were constructed and it’s still hard to believe that where before was an empty land, now stands best athletic ground.

Now I have an idea to begin an inclusive coffee shop, which will become a center for cultural and social life of people with physical limitations.

Inclusia, from it’s name, will be an involvement of people into life processes, no matter of their condition, race, or gender. We shouldn’t create separation of healthy from unhealthy people. I fight with our mass media, which consistently introduce me as “Alexander Kochenkov, wheal-chaire disable person”. What for everyone uses this fact, for reason or without, to create catchy titles? In this case, why no one signs off as “toothless Irina Ivanova”? or “Oncological patient Mikhail”?

I am just a person, we live in a modern society. We have to change. Disability is just a disability. It does not determine the person’s status.

Looking back, I understand that this injury lead to me realizing my full potential.     

I was just an average laborer at a factory, home, family- just like everyone else. More likely I would have continue living an average, simple life. Now my life is much more interesting, although more difficult. In reality, it’s due the accident, my childhood dreams started realizing. Tournaments, full-blown events, YouTube channel. I wanted all of this before the accident, but I lacked time and motivation. After the accident I had nothing to loose and I started moving toward the dream.

This is why I just want to say — guys, there are many thoughts in your head, having arms and legs you can move the mountains, you just need to start acting upon it. Even I achieved so much, what are you waiting for?

If each of us begin with ourselves, we will become the best nation, we already have everything for it. 

Don’t give up. So much may happen. You have to rise up and start dreaming new things, and then begin to realize them.