Bestseller author, model and Paralympic athlete – Erica Powell wants to achieve all this. And alongside the way, she also wants to clear up prejudices about people with disabilities. Why Erica finds stereotypes are annoying, why she always has to laugh when asked about her guide dog and which questions she frequently asks other people, she tells us at REHACARE.com.
Name: Erica Powell Age: 26 City: Greenville / South Carolina (USA) Occupation: National keynote speaker and fitness coach Impairment: Legally blind and progressive vision loss due to cancer
Erica Powell: Spending time with my crazy lab puppy named Grant. Everyone always asks if he is my guide dog. That’s the laughable part! If you spend even 2 minutes with him, you would realize he is too crazy and wild to serve any type of purpose beside cuteness.
What have you always been wanting to do and why have you never done this so far?
Erica Powell: Any goal I set for myself, I vow to work long and hard until I achieve that goal. I want to be a Paralympic athlete, a New York Times’s best selling author, and a model on a major magazine to help break down stereotypes for individuals with disabilities like myself. All of these things are goals I am already preparing myself for and working towards!
Which person has influenced you most? And why?
Erica Powell: My parents! Even as a child with cancer and vision loss, my parents never treated me differently. I believe that is how I have developed the level of self confidence and drive that I have today!
You have the chance to become the Commissioner for the Disabled. What would you do first?
Erica Powell: Change culture. In our society people with disabilities are excluded, left out, and seen as less than. That leads to individuals with disabilities feeling uncomfortable standing up for themselves, not being self confident, and not feeling worthy of living fulfilled, independent lives. I would use that platform to break stereotypes of people with disabilities and crush the barriers we face so that equality, access, and fulfillment are a reality!
Her cancer treatment has had led to vision loss. But Erica Powell overcame all barriers and since she has graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology, she has been a speaker and fitness trainer – changing the way people with disabilities are seen and breaking down some stereotypes.
What is especially near and dear to you?
Erica Powell: Fitness! I use fitness and my passion for empowering others to breakdown those stereotypes of individuals with disabilities and inspire others to be confident, independent goal achievers!
I would like to be...
Erica Powell: ...the person that I am, which is a strong, independent woman who happens to have a disability!
Which question would you like answered the most?
Erica Powell: I spend my life empowering others. So I’m used to asking my audiences the hard questions! Questions like.... "What is holding you back?", "Why do you not feel worthy?", "Do you know you are more than a label others choose to identify you with?".
What I finally want to say...
Erica Powell: Your disability is one part of who you are! Take pride in that part of yourself, and also recognize there is more to you than just that.