Jessica Cox, the first armless person to earn a pilot’s license, visited Ethiopia as part of Handicap International’s efforts to foster inclusion of children with disabilities in schools which are supported by USAID.
It was stated that the aim of the visit was to speak and interact with children with disabilities and their peers and show Ethiopians the great potential for achievement within people with disabilities if they are encouraged to attend school.
During her visit Jessica spoke to more than 300 disabled and able-bodied students being educated at the Addis Ababa University (AAU) and invited guests on Monday, April 1 2013. Her visit to Ethiopia was filmed as part of a documentary called RIGHTFOOTED which tells the story of her life and her desire to redefine what it means to be disabled.
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work with Handicap International in furthering their goals in Ethiopia. My accomplishments are just as much a story of opportunity as they are about possibility. I hope that sharing my story will help Ethiopians realize that children with disabilities should be given the same opportunities that children without disabilities are given,” she stated.
She also flew a 30 minutes test flight alongside Capitan Solomon Gizaw of Abyssinia Flight Services at Bole International Airport in the presence of invited guests.
According to UNESCO, 98 percent of children with disabilities living in low-income countries do not attend school. Various studies have shown that lack of education often traps people with disabilities and their families in a cycle of poverty.
Jessica Cox is a 30 year old American. It was stated that she earned a black belt in Taekwondo when she was 14, and received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Arizona using her toes to type papers for her assignments. She stated that she had always dreamt of becoming a pilot and in 2008, after years of tireless effort, she achieved her goal.
As a result, she is placed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first disabled person to accomplish this feat.