Hi, I’m Anja Christoffersen and I’m an ambassador for International Day of People with Disability.
I’m a disability advocate, a social entrepreneur, a model, a speaker and author, and I wear many, many hats.
I was born with a condition called VACTERL Association, which is a rare and complex disability that affects one in 10,000 to one in 40,000 births.
Disability isn’t a dirty word. I think if I’d actually understood that I had a disability a lot younger I would have accepted a lot more support and a lot more accommodations.
When I’m constantly looked at as someone that doesn’t have a disability, it is really, really difficult to walk that fine line of someone that can be viewed as a model or a businesswoman, on top of all of that, I still see about 10 specialist teams at my hospital.
I really have to explain to people that I’m not well. I might look fine but I’m not. I still have days where I cannot get out of bed. I still have days where I have to actually drop everything and not do anything more.
When I was born, having such a rare and complex condition, my parents constantly wondered what my life would be like growing up and honestly they had no idea whether or not I would survive.
For me it was really important that there was someone like me, that parents of the young babies that are born could look up to.
Disability can be such an incredible strength. I would never for a second wish my disability away because it has given me so much purpose.
I just encourage younger people to always see your disability as a strength and never as a weakness.
So often the people that aren’t affected by the decision are the ones that are leading the solutions and I think it’s time really for us to actually take our power back, to be given the resources that we need, and to design the solutions ourselves.
Anja Christoffersen (she/her) was born with VACTERL association, a complex disability that affects 1 in 10,000 births.
Anja is a passionate disability advocate who has found purpose and strength in her disability. She is also a social entrepreneur, model, speaker and author and founder of Champion Health Agency.
In July 2018, she published her autobiography and ‘self-help’ book, ‘Behind the Smile: An Inspirational Journey from Disability to Ability’.