Former Paralympian tells kids 'yes you can'

April 8, 2012 7:28:58 AM PDT
A local motivational and educational speaker is using his story to inspire Chicago Public School students to believe in themselves.

Never letting his disability keep him from reaching his goals, Lloyd Bacharach, a former paralympian, has a simple message -- "yes you can."

At Sawyer Elementary School on Chicago's Southwest Side, Bacharach spoke to sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

Bacharach is part of "Communities in Schools of Chicago. " Jane Mentzinger is the executive director.

"We have been around for more than 17 years in Chicago and we're working with 160 Chicago Public Schools and about 170 community organizations," Mentzinger said. "Schools are selected really based on their interest and bringing partners to their school that could serve their students and believe that bringing community to their schools can make a difference and enrich the lives of their students and parents and families."

Bacharach was born with congenital bone deficiency, which left his legs short. He never let his physical challenges stop him.

"I could either go down one path and feel sorry for myself or down another path where I didn't and the truth is, I didn't know any differently and I've always had this positive attitude," Bacharach said. "When I would ask my parents how did you know ?they would always say you we're always so determined."

Bacharach was quite an athlete growing up. At age 3, his parents got him involved in swimming to help building his upper body strength.

"I went into high school from there and got involved in gymnastics and ended up finishing fifth in the state my senior year," he said. "I have something like 25 gold medals through out my career."

He was also selected to play sitting volleyball at the paralympic games.

Bacharach takes his " yes you can" motivational and educational program around the country. He speaks to about 100 schools and more than 20 corporations a year.

"I love the fact that I feel like my story could make a difference in the kids' life and realize that my challenges are not nothing like theirs, but they are facing their down difficulties and they are facing their own challenges," he said.

Eighth-grader Julian Grimmentt likes Bacharach's message.

"One of the first things he said that caught my attention was the fact that he said they first looked at his body and not what was in his spirit and I feel a lot about the same that I'm looked down by people because of my age, because of pretty much they only see the outside," Julian said.

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