Paraplegia since jumping into flat water at the age of 12. My fifth and sixth cervical vertebra are broken, that’s why my arms are also paralyzed and I can only move them in a very limited way. I use an electric wheelchair. In order to live self-determined I have personal assistants with me all the time. They help me with everything concerning care and house work. They are my hands and feet when cooking or working as an artist, they accompany me outside and on journeys. Thanks to them I can lead a self-determined and worth living life.
Name: Oliver Straub Age: 32 City: Friedrichshafen, Germany Occupation: Artist and free spirit Impairment: Paraplegia since jumping into flat water at the age of 12. My fifth and sixth cervical vertebra are broken, that’s why my arms are also paralyzed and I can only move them in a very limited way. I use an electric wheelchair. In order to live self-determined I have personal assistants with me all the time. They help me with everything concerning care and house work. They are my hands and feet when cooking or working as an artist, they accompany me outside and on journeys. Thanks to them I can lead a self-determined and worth living life.
Oliver Straub: I joke around with my assistants a lot. Some of them are from different countries, so we often have funny situations when talking in English, where I could be rolling on the floor laughing.
What have you always been wanting to do and why have you never done this so far?
Oliver Straub: A trip around the world would be my big dream. But I do not lack the courage to do it, but the necessary money. But maybe one day, I will go on my tour around the world – with my electric wheelchair 500 kilometers on five continents. We will see what the future brings. But you have to think big to get things moving.
Which person has influenced you most?
Oliver Straub: I would say my father: Although not everything was fine, he taught me a lot and let me be independent as a child. After my accident a friend influenced me a lot. I lived with my parents – and for about 4 years I have only been sitting at home in front of the computer. But when I got to know Ufuk in hospital in 2008, I knew that I need assistance just like he had in order to get my freedom back. 2008 was also the year where the Personal Budget was introduced and Ufuk explained to me, how to get information and where to apply for it. Since January 2009 I am now living in my own appartement. I go out, go on vacation, and talk about the Personal Budget and help other people in my situation.
You have the chance to become the German Federal Commissioner for the Disabled. What would you do first?
Oliver Straub: Unfortunately you do not have the power to make laws as the German Federal Commissioner for the Disabled. But I would campaign for the so called Bundesteilhabegesetz (Federal Participation Law) and its immediate implementation. But I will not wait. In August I am going to start my tour from Lake Constance to Berlin in my electric wheelchair, in order to promote the law. The asset and income independent benefits for people with disabilities like mine are very important to me.
Your life is made into a film: Who would represent you?
Oliver Straub: I guess the best one would be myself, but because I do not have acting skills I would like Robert Gwisdek to represent me. In the movie "Run if you can" he played a tetraplegian like me so convincing that I really thought he was one until the end of the movie.
I would like to be ...
Oliver Straub: … a condor who flies across Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains.
Which questions would you like answered the most?
Oliver Straub: Is there life on other planets? What are all these unexplainable UFO sightings all about? What was there before the Big Bang?
What I finally want to say...
Oliver Straub: My tour from Lake Constance to Berlin starts on 20th August. If you life in one of those cities and you want to join me for some actions or if you want to join me on my tour, have a look at my website, get informed and write me. I am also still looking for sponsors for my tour.