Armless pilot, Jessica Cox, to inspire disabled children in Ethiopia
Jessica Cox, the first person without arms to obtain a pilot's license, is heading to Ethiopia next month to inspire children with disabilities to 'think outside the shoe'.
Jessica, who is 30, will visit the charity, Handicap International's inclusive education project, reinforcing their on-going efforts to foster inclusion of children with disabilities in Ethiopian schools, and to help change long-held societal beliefs about the role of people with disabilities. Handicap International runs inclusive education projects for children with disabilities in 20 countries.
Jessica's visit will be filmed as part of the documentary RIGHTFOOTED, which tells the story of Cox' life and her desire to redefine what it means to be disabled. She has achieved more using just her feet than most other people dare to aspire to. She achieved a black belt in Taekwondo when she was 14, and earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona by typing papers with her toes.
Jessica always dreamed of becoming a pilot and in 2008, after years of persistent effort, she achieved this goal by soloing a single engine 1946 415C Ercoupe Airplane. She also enjoys rock climbing and snowboarding and made her first sky dive in January.
During her speaking engagements and in her personal time, Cox counsels individuals with disabilities and their families, emphasising the importance persistence and dreaming big. "There are two words I've eliminated from my vocabulary," Cox says. "'I can't.' Because once you say those words, you've already failed." She also emphasises the importance of opportunity for persons with disability.
According to the World Report on Disability, 98 percent of children with disabilities living in low-income countries do not attend school.
Jessica Cox said, "I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work with Handicap International in furthering their goals in Ethiopia. My accomplishments are just as much a story of opportunity as they are about possibility. I hope that sharing my story will help Ethiopians realise that children with disabilities should be given the same opportunities that children without disabilities are given."
While in Ethiopia, Jessica will work directly with children, their families, teachers, members of disabled people organisations and Handicap International staff.
She also hopes to meet with government officials and to speak on local television and radio programmes about her life and accomplishments. The goal is to change attitudes about what's possible, and to inspire change.
Handicap International is an independent international aid organisation focused on persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. The charity was the co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
Jessica's team is still looking for donations to help support their mission. You can donate at this link
Jessica's website can be found here
The Handicap International US site is here
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