No Limbs No LimitsThursday 10 Apr 2014
The positive outlook is one of the most fascinating facets of humankind surely. Time and again we see people transcending circumstances with the kind of inner strength that seems to have come from some other place. Such a person is Joanne O’Riordan, who is extraordinary in her insistence that life will not better her, in fact that life - if she has her way - will get much better.
Joanne, from Millstreet, County Cork was born with no limbs, and is one of seven people currently living around the globe with Total-Amelia syndrome.
Her brother Steven’s inspiring film begins with home movie footage of Joanne as a young girl - riding on a pedalo on holidays with her parents, being whizzed down a slide in someone else's arms. Already you sense a girl who will not be cosseted, or given undue kid glove treatment, who, as she grows up, will learn a feisty sense of independence.
The central event in the documentary is the invitation extended to Joanne to speak at the United Nations International Telecommunications Conference in New York, on her sixteenth birthday, in April 2012. In her address, the young Cork teenager explained how technology had been so helpful to her in surmounting the obstacles.
She also expressed, in that half-jokey way of hers her desire that someone might build a robot for her. “This robot would become my hands and legs,“ she declared to a rapt audience. “Call it crazy, call it insane, call it what you like – but the challenges I face every day get bigger and far greater to overcome. I know I can overcome these challenges but I need your help. I can’t rely on my parents, my brothers, sister and others all my life. Can I? Certainly not and I don’t want to.”
Joanne expressed her wish to live an independent life. “I don’t want to live in the shadow of others because I want to make my own journey in life, and I know if I’m given that chance I can and will succeed. I know that there must be someone out there in the world who can do something like this to make life much easier. It would not just help me, but indeed others who are in similar situations.”
This moving film concludes with the robot being constructed by a band of enthusiastic young engineering students in Trinity College Dublin. In other words, dream becomes reality for the girl who in the word ‘impossible’ has, from the outset, only seen the word broken into two very different words, “I’m possible.”