He Invented Braille for The Blind

Louis Braille

Blind from age three, Louis Braille learned to read at a school for the blind in Paris where, at that time, books for the blind could weigh as much as a hundred pounds! Inspired by the indented dots on dice, he invented the Braille system of reading and writing, now available in every language in the world.

In 1812, a three-year-old boy was playing in his father’s leather workshop in Coupvray, France when he had an accident that would change the world. Louis Braille accidentally poked himself in the eye with an awl: The metal point blinded him in one eye and an infection soon left him totally blind.

Louis was a bright boy and won a scholarship to a school for the blind in Paris. It was not a particularly nice place; students were often fed bread and water and locked up for punishment. Louis and the other blind children were taught various skills (Louis became expert at playing the organ and cello), and they were taught to read. At that time, books for the blind used raised letters with metal wires under the paper, and some of the books weighed one hundred pounds!

One day, a soldier visited the school and talked about a code system that he had invented in the French army. It used raised dots and dashes on a piece of paper to allow soldiers to send each other messages in the dark while remaining silent.

Louis and the other children found the system too confusing, but the basic idea stuck in the boy’s head. He began experimenting with different ways of creating a language using raised dots on paper—and for this, he used the same awl that had blinded him!

One day, Louis Braille happened to pick up a pair of dice and feel the six dots on one side. That’s when inspiration struck him. He soon developed a code for each letter of the alphabet, with numbers and symbols like periods and question marks, all using no more than six dots.

One great advantage of his system was that you could read each letter or symbol using the tip of your finger. With practice, a reader could run his finger along a line and read very quickly. The other big plus was that blind people using Braille’s system could write as well as read. His system opened up a whole new world!

It took many years for the Braille system to take off, and its popularity was still spreading when Louis died in 1852. Not many people can say that they invented an entire new system of reading and writing, but Louis Braille did. What’s more, his system was adopted around the world, and today is available in virtually every language that humans speak.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

Bullying Is A Choice

Bullying is a choice. Enabling bullying, by ignoring or cheering a bully, is a choice. Bullying or enabling a bully are bad choices. Make a better choice. Reach out and support someone who has been bullied. That’s a choice can save a life.

Short Video: The Locker


 

A Quadriplegic Determined to Walk

Aaron Moser

After a serious accident not only ended Aaron Moser’s junior hockey career but made him a quadriplegic, he created a research foundation dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.

Some Canadian patriots get themselves a maple leaf tattoo. Aaron Moser got two maple leafs built into his custom-made wheelchair—the one he used to help carry the Olympic torch.

It was an incredibly proud moment when Moser, who calls himself a “super patriot,” helped carry the torch around the arena at the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. It was also a tribute to him and his courage.

Aaron was only seventeen years old when tragedy struck during a 1998 local junior league hockey game in British Columbia. He was checked into the boards, hit head first, and broke his neck. Aaron’s spinal cord was cut, leaving him a quadriplegic; he has no feeling or movement below his chest.

For Aaron, who was such an athletic and active guy, it was a brutal blow. For his family, it meant adapting their lives and their home to support him, and help him adjust to his new life. It also meant extra expenses.

Aaron Moser’s family, friends, and the entire community pulled together. They set up a trust fund to cover the renovations, equipment, supplies, and other expenses. Soon, the trust fund was swamped with donations—not just from people in the area who knew Aaron, but also from people throughout the world of hockey.

They weren’t just motivated by the tragedy; they were inspired by the way the teenager handled the shocking change to his life. Aaron refused to complain about his fate or to give up hope. He kept insisting that he would work hard enough and long enough to walk again.

The trust fund and Moser’s courage kept attracting donations. After a while, there was enough money not only to help Aaron Moser, but also to set up a foundation in his name—a non-profit group dedicated to helping find a cure for him and others with spinal cord injuries.

Every year, Moser and dedicated volunteers run a golf tournament and other activities to raise money for spinal cord injury research. As of this writing, they have brought in more than $400,000. And every year, they help researchers get a little closer to a cure.

As Moser always says, “I have no doubt that one day I will walk again!”

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

Aviation Pioneer & Women’s Advocate

Amelia Earhart

A record-setting aviation pioneer and adventurer, Amelia Earhart was a celebrity and advocate for women’s equality in the early 1900s.

Millie and Pidge were two unusual little girls. Growing up in the 1860s in Kansas, their mother let them run wild like the neighborhood boys—something that just wasn’t done in those days. Millie and her sister became fearless tomboys: climbing trees, collecting bugs, and helping their uncle build a home-made (and very dangerous!) wooden roller coaster.

Full of self-confidence, Amelia (Millie’s real name) grew up determined to do something great with her life. She just didn’t know what it was going to be.

One answer seemed to come during World War I, when Earhart visited her sister in Toronto and ended up volunteering as a nurse at a military hospital. Right after the war, a worldwide flu pandemic killed millions of people in 1918. Earhart kept nursing but got sick herself, and spent nearly a year recovering in the hospital.

Then, something else happened in Toronto that changed Amelia Earhart’s life. She watched one of the first annual air shows at the famous Canadian National Exhibition. The pilot of a biplane swooped down low and flew right over her head. From that moment, she was hooked on airplanes.

Back home in Kansas, Earhart took her first airplane ride and announced that she was going to learn to fly. Working every job she could get, Amelia saved up the money for lessons and became only the sixteenth woman in the world to get her international flying license.

Amelia Earhart became somewhat of a celebrity and set out to promote flying, especially for women. Her fame skyrocketed after she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, even though she was little more than a passenger.

After that, Earhart started setting her own records. She became the first woman to fly across North America and back, set a new world altitude record, and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

By this time, she was a major star—writing books, making celebrity appearances, and designing her own line of clothes. She used her fame to promote flying as a form of transportation, and constantly worked for equality for women, not just in the air, but in all aspects of life.

Amelia Earhart was one of the most famous people in the world when she disappeared during her greatest adventure—flying around the world. Her fate is still a mystery.

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This is an excerpt from the book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™, 75 Inspiring Biographies by Larry Anderson. It is available as a print book from Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book.

 

 

My 2012 Quest

The Importance of Listening

 

It is amazing how under appreciated the skill of listening is. Listening is important in personal relationships, business and personal development.

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

— Henry David Thoreau, Author

In personal relationships having someone listen to you, really listen to you, without advising you, without waiting to provide a response, but simply to hear you, to understand you, is rare. It is also a wonderful gift.

How many times has someone really listened to you without an agenda? How many times have you listened to someone, just to hear them?

“We listened to what our customers wanted and acted on what they said. Good things happen when you pay attention.”

— John F Smith, Former CEO and President General Motors

To listen to your customers intently to understand their wants, their problems or needs and their expectations is the most important market research you can do. Early in my career I was a top salesman. From experience I can tell you that the most important sales tool is the right question and the ability to listen to and understand the answer. Selling, is after all, problem solving. Once you understand the customers problem you can provide the right solution. It never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople are anxious to present me their solution before they understand my problem.

Do you ask questions to understand the problem before presenting your solution? How could you improve your questions and your listening?

“Listen to the chorus of voices in your own head. If they express worry, doubt, or fear counter them by asking yourself empowering questions to reframe your thinking.”

— Vivo Saggezza, mentor

Ask yourself, “What can I learn. Who can I get to help? How can I reduce risk? How can I increase my confidence? Who do I know who has done this before?

You will find answers that empower you. Your thinking will change to the action you can take to achieve your objective.

Better listening can improve your personal life, your business success and your personal development. What can you do today to improve your listening?

Free The Children Founder

This is a excerpt from my forthcoming book Inspiration to Live Your MAGIC!™ to be published in January 2012. A collection of 75 biographical introductions that inspire.

 

Craig Keilburger

Creator of Free The Children, an organization whose purpose is to free child slaves all over the world and provide them with an education, Craig Kielburger was a child himself when his passion to help children began.

One morning in 1995, twelve-year-old Craig Kielburger was flipping through a newspaper, looking for the comics, and he happened to see a headline about the murder of a boy named Iqbal who was about Craig’s own age.

Craig read about how Iqbal had been sold into slavery in South Asia at the age of four and spent six years chained to a carpet-making machine, working day and night. Iqbal had escaped, told his story to the world, and started fighting against child slavery.

Now, the story said, Iqbal had been killed to stop his campaign for freedom.

That terrible story touched something in Craig, and he determined to pick up Iqbal’s cause and work to free children from slavery, poverty, and ignorance. It was a big ambition for a twelve-year-old, but Craig says Iqbal’s story proved that the bravest voice could live in the smallest body.

So, Craig cut the article out of the paper, took it to his school in Thornhill, Ontario, and asked his classmates if they wanted to help. Eleven other kids put their hands up . . . and that was the start of the group Craig called “Free The Children.”

Together, they set out to raise funds, tell people about the plight of child slaves worldwide, and—above all—to help those children get the freedom and education they needed.

Craig’s friends told other friends, parents, teachers . . . the word spread quickly and Free The Children grew by leaps and bounds. Soon, they were working with other groups in third world countries, getting support from companies and associations, and creating their own education and development programs.

Today, Free The Children is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education. There are more than one million youth involved in forty-five countries worldwide. They build schools, provide clean water and health care, and fight against the abuse and neglect of children . . . everything to make life better for other children and youth.

Craig Kielburger is now a grown man, but continues to dedicate his entire life to the cause he started when he was twelve. He flies all over the world, giving speeches and working with various groups that share his passion for justice. Here at home, he helps organize and support student leaders and others who want to change the world for the better.

And it all happened because Kielburger saw something disturbing in the newspaper, and refused to just turn the page.

Want to know more? Free The Children

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© Copyright 2011, LIAP Media Corp.

LIAP Media Corp. the publisher of the Live Your MAGIC!™ series of books is a social enterprise. Part of the Larry & Janet Anderson Philanthropies

All author Royalties and publishing profits are donated to our charity, education and arts partners.


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