Tiaraoluwa Ogunleye: Making a difference despite challenge
Tiaraoluwa Ogunleye is a four-year-old girl. She is a Class 2 pupil, who wants to be a model and a lawyer in future. But there is an interesting side to Tiaraoluwa.
Although born with a limb challenge in her left arm, Tiaraoluwa has learned not to let this hinder her from doing anything.
“I started wearing my socks and shoes myself, when I was two years old,” she said. “I can ride a bicycle. I even won a cycling competition in school last summer. I can dress myself like doing my buttons and zip. The latest is my ability to tie a bow.”
Tiaraoluwa draws her daily inspiration from her “wonderful parents and brother, who constantly instill the ‘can do spirit’ in her.
“My parents don’t fail to remind me that I am not limited by my limb difference, and my brother is always there and ready to help and push me through difficult tasks, like when he taught me how to ride a bicycle,” she said. All this has added so much enthusiasm to her young life.
Tiaraoluwa also gets her excitement sometimes from the surprise on people’s faces, when they discover she has been able to overcome her seeming physical challenge, and has even turned it into something positive.
She said: “When people meet me for the first time, they tend to assume I won’t be able to do certain things with one hand. But I always prove them wrong, and let them realise that I may be different, but that doesn’t make me less.”
So, how did she arrive at this point? What is the secret behind her indomitable spirit?
“Whenever I’m facing a difficult challenge, I always put in more effort and keep on trying till I have it figured out,” she explained. “And like my parents always tell me, if anybody can do it, I can do it better. Even if nobody can do it, I can make it happen. That has always been my watchword.”
To encourage those with the same predicament, Tiaraoluwa has embarked on motivational and inspirational mission.
She said: “I try as much as possible to create awareness about limb difference. So, I share my daily activities on social media to preach inclusion, as I would like to see myself and other people with physical challenges being represented in all the industries, including the fashion industry. Seeing a disabled child used as a model for a clothing brand is not what we get to see in this part of the world, yet we also wear these clothes. I also try to encourage other people with disabilities by letting them know that their disability doesn’t and shouldn’t define them.”
She advises other kids to not let their challenges hinder them from going for their dreams.
“I want them to know there’s no limitation to what you can achieve in life. The only thing stopping you is you. Also, just because a crayon is broken doesn’t stop it from painting the most beautiful picture,” she said.