Skip to content

Stella’s Challenge Campaign Inspired By Stella Young Launched At TEDX Sydney

May 21, 2015

A new national campaign designed to change social attitudes towards people living with disabilities was announced on Thursday at TEDxSydney.

Stella’s Challenge is inspired by writer, comedian and disability advocate Stella Young, who died in December.

Young’s talk “I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much” at TEDxSydney’s 2014 event quickly became one of their most popular videos, attracting more than 1.7m views. In it, Young said she was more disabled by the society she lived in than by any physical limitations.

The announcement, made at Sydney Opera House, preceded a talk by Paralympic gold medallist Dylan Alcott. Alcott was born with a large tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic. In 2008 he became the youngest ever winner of a wheelchair basketball gold medal when he represented Australia at the Beijing Paralympics.

Alcott described seeing Victorian road safety billboards in which the image of “a really depressing guy in a wheelchair” was used as a deterrent for speeding.

“In society we have this idea ending up in a wheelchair is the worst thing that could ever happen to you,” Alcott said. “I beg to differ. There are a lot of things worse than that which could happen to you – like wearing Crocs, or supporting the English cricket team.”
Stella Young memorial: ‘Stella made this place better … she made Australia better’
Read more

Alcott said society was “full of stereotypes about life with disability” and shared anecdotes from his family life, sporting career and travels to music festivals around the world where he quickly gained a reputation as “the dude that crowdsurfs in a wheelchair”.

He called people living with a disability “the largest but least visible minority in the world”. There were four million Australians living with some kind of physical or intellectual disability, Alcott said, adding that many “struggle with confidence and a lack of social inclusion.”

Alcott said changing the stigma around disability required increased visibility and bringing disability “into the mainstream”. He said he hoped that next time he saw a billboard starring a man in a wheelchair, “he won’t be depressed and he definitely won’t be devastated.”

“He’ll be a movie star. Or he might be a sporting hero. Who knows, he might be the prime minister. And this guy, he’ll be happy, he’ll be smiling. He’ll be achieving. But let’s just hope he’s not wearing Crocs.”

Alcott may see that wish come true sooner than he expected, with oOh Media! pledging $250,000 in airport advertising to Stella’s Challenge. Google pledged $10,000 per month in free Google ad grants and free Google Apps to the campaign.

Audience members were asked to contribute both money donations and creative talent to a campaign that may take the form of online, radio, outdoor advertising, television or possibly a documentary.

TEDxSydney Impact co-founder Felicity Fellows said the organisation had seen a strong commitment by the community to put ideas shared at the event into action. “Our community want to be actively involved in creating positive change,” she said.

Stella’s Challenge will be launched on 3 December 2015, the United Nations international day of people with disability.

No comments yet

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: