When it comes to life’s challenges, motivational speaker Alvin Law understands what is needed to turn things around.
Law was the keynote speaker at Ponoka Secondary Campus Nov. 17 during a special Alberta Junior High Leadership Conference aimed at giving young student leaders a chance at learning and collaboration.
Law has no arms due to his mother taking Thalidomide when he was in the womb and despite those challenges, he has found a way to have a positive outlook on life. It’s that key message he tried to impart to students in attendance.
“In 1972 it was acceptable for people like me to be called a freak,” said Law.
Ever since he can remember he has had people look at him differently or be bullied for his appearance. Law said when his parents saw he had no arms when he was born, they abandoned him.
“The best thing that ever happened to me is my parents didn’t want me,” Law stated.
He was adopted by Hilda and Jack Law who were foster parents and while not all foster home stories are seen as pleasant, Law says this was the best thing for him.
His parents challenged him to figure out how to function with his feet. And he did. There are countless stories of Law learning how to do something new such as learning how to skate or play soccer. Now he drives with his feet and eats and takes care of himself with his feet.
Law took a realistic viewpoint to his situation, pointing out that people and kids stare at him. He now makes a point of embracing that to help educate people. “I realize that I can’t stop people from looking but what I can change is the way I respond.”
That’s not to say that everything has been easy for Law. In his teen years, life for him was difficult, but Law credits his parents for once again showing him that it’s up to him to decide how to move forward.
In a clear message to the youths at the conference, Law stated that leaders aren’t born, they’re developed. He likened this to a nurture versus nature situation.
“Nurture is about the experiences you have growing up,” said Law.
He pointed out that in life, with the conference and workshops, and future life events, that will shape their strengths and abilities. Law spoke about his own life experiences as an example.
He learned to wash the dishes, mow the lawn or shovel the snow off the sidewalk.
“It is truly remarkable what you can accomplish when you’re faced with an impossible task,” said Law.
He told the story of how, as a child, a piano teacher told him his toes were too short to play music. Law then proceeded play Chopsticks for attendees, and eventually his own musical number on the piano.
Law also played the drums for those in attendance to give them a strong visual and message: while the world can be a scary and challenging environment, it can’t be fixed with anger or antagonism but rather with positivity, and way more hugs.
The message to youths was that anything can be accomplished rather than setting limits to it.
The 24-hour conference featured speakers and workshops, and students from around the province attended.