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Nicole's Story

I chose Nicole for the V.O.W Project as I was inspired by the way she noticed a lack of support for people with limb differences so set up her own charity.

For me this story is all about growth and the constant inner battle I feel we all have within us of accepting who we are. I am so proud of Nicole for what she has achieved and the way she has portrayed the difficulties that people who are differently abled face in this ablest society. .

"I have had to fight to be seen as able from the moment I entered the world. My mum has spoken to me about the day I was born. She fought through infertility treatment from the age of 18 to conceive me. She had a regular pregnancy, and all appeared healthy. She labored normally and moments after I entered the world lifeless, she was presented her revived newborn with the words “I have to show you THIS” before I was taken away to the neonatal unit. “THIS” was my arm.”
I was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS) which occurs when fibrous bands of the amniotic sac (the lining inside the uterus that contains a fetus) become entangled around a developing fetus. This manifests differently for each individual and mine that appears like a below the elbow amputation. I have movement in the very end of my arm, and I have 5 little fingers. I imagine it as a pre-stage of a hand as the amniotic band wrapped around my developing forearm. The collective term for the outcome of this condition, along with 50 others, is Limb Difference.
My mum did not see me for days whilst the medical team tested me for various other conditions. Meanwhile I was told that my Dad was informing the family of my grim prognosis – I would have a poor quality of life, I wouldn’t hit my milestones, probably have learning difficulties, I was disabled. This was a very damning statement 30 years ago when disability representation and education was almost nonexistent.
There were 2 strong camps within my family from the moment I was born, and they remain. One side of the family (thankfully the larger side) were of the opinion that I would be able to do anything I wanted to, I was not defined by my limb difference. No allowances were made for me throughout my childhood. My arm was never a factor to them, it was not what I would achieve despite my disability but with it.
The other side was vastly different. My disability was at the forefront of everything. I would need all the adaptions available to me, I would be unable to participate in activities my peers were enjoying. I would not lead the typical life. Unfortunately, a family member stated that I was a punishment from god delivered to my mum who was an atheist. Knowing this I always felt that I was loved despite my disability by this individual. A curse on the family.
As I grew up that was the theme. Pulled between the ableist beliefs of one side and the enabling beliefs of the other. I asked to start ballet or gymnastics numerous times like any other little girl, and I got blanked. I went to my friends go karting event and when her parents asked if I could have a go, they were told no and reminded of my lack of an arm. I felt singled out but not by my peers.
I was prescribed prosthetics from the age of 6 months but I was stubborn and refused to master the use of them. I would spend ages with the contraptions stuck to me, trying to use cutlery to cut food up, uncomfortable and feeling more disabled than ever. I just wanted to do things my way but my parents were told to persevere. It took me to the age of 12 to completely draw a line under my prosthetic journey.
My self-image struggled to develop into a healthy one, which resulted in me seeking external validation as I hit my teen years. When I started secondary school, I found myself getting attention from boys which hadn’t happened before. I remember thinking that they must be mistaken or playing a cruel trick on me. I didn’t think that people would ever see past my arm. This led to me accepting any bidding to ‘go out’ with a boy, which 20 years ago meant nothing more than the label of boyfriend/girlfriend and maybe a little bit of handholding. Soon some of the boys cottoned on that I was desperate to gain approval and had low confidence. I would find boys getting pushy with me and wanting way too much from a 13-year-old girl.
Luckily, my husband, put a stop to what I fear could have been some very compromising situations. We started dating at the age of 14. He has always made me feel so seen, so special and so perfectly made. He has never doubted that I can do anything and even encouraged me to do things that I ruled out for myself.
The internal battle around my self-image ruled my life up to the age of 25. I have always had a fire in me, a stubbornness that has been evoked every time I am told I cannot do something, or my ability is doubted. But equally always had a strong lack of self-worth and very aware that society is set up for only those seen as ‘able-bodied’.
 This conflict impacted every aspect of my life. I believed I would never have a person attracted to me, never be loved, never have a family, never be a good mother, never be successful. Even at my wedding I asked the vicar if we could swap the traditional stance of the woman standing on the left during the ceremony so that I wouldn’t have my arm visible to my family or in my photos because I believed that a bride shouldn't have one arm.
Then I had my son, and everything changed. I looked at this little life I created, and I reminded myself that I am able. I am loved, worthy, a mother, a valuable member of society, a woman and I have a limb difference. All these things can co-exist together within me. There is no shame or apology to be made for my existence. Looking at my son I did not want him to grow up seeing his mum struggling to love herself nor did I want him to grow up in a society telling those who are different that they are not worthy.
Here is where IAMPOSSIBLE was born. I knew that I could not participate in a society where others would grow up feeling the same as me without trying to make a change.
My initial focus was on visibility and representation to start with. If only I had seen myself represented in the books I read, the magazines I bought, the programs I watched things might have been different. If only I had had access to a free community of individuals with limb differences that I would connect with and share experiences with. These things could have been so powerful for me and sped up my journey to body confidence so surely it could help others now. So, I started an Instagram account and began networking with others in the disability community. I started sharing facts and figures. I started sharing people’s stories and experiences of growing up with a limb difference.
The foundation is growing from strength to strength and we are now focusing on education, adaptive fitness and support along with building a community of awesome individuals. I have since left my job to focus on my young family and taking The IAMPOSSIBLE Foundation to the next level.
The journey of anyone told they don’t fit the mould is one that teaches a strength and resilience like no other. It is a journey whose travellers can bond in an unexplainable way. It’s the journey of back to yourself.
My journey has brought me full circle back to where I was when I entered this world. I have the innate knowledge within me that I am able, and no one will be able to take that from me, not again.
I am Able 
More information can be found about Nicoles charity at
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