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How Stella Young Epitomized Strength and Fierceness

Written by: Iris

How Stella Young Epitomized Strength and Fierceness post image

The comedian, journalist and Australia’s leading disability activist Stella Young's untimely passing in the evening of December 6th , 2014 did not only shock the whole country and the disabled communities, but also appalled  those who have been deeply touched by her wit and pragmatic judgment.  Her beautiful life has ended too soon, yet her prior advocacies for inclusion have created a huge impact to the disabled community, and her campaigns for atheism, feminism and gay rights have definitely made a difference in promoting equality.

Young was born on February 24th, 1982 in Stawell, Victoria, with osteogenesis imperfecta, a bone disorder which causes her bones to get easily broken. Albeit being wheelchair-bound most of her life, Young was still able to chase her dreams. She studied in Deakin University where she finished Bachelor of Journalism and held a Diploma of Secondary Education from the University of Melbourne. She then worked as a teacher at the Melbourne Museum's public programs, before hosting  Channel 31's No Limits for eight seasons. She was the former editor of Ramp Up, ABC's website for news on the subject of disability. She won the Best Newcomer Award at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival for her show, Tales from the Crip. In April 2014, Stella did a talk entitled "I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much." in TEDxSydney, where she expounded how people with disabilities are being regarded as "inspirational”, treating and calling it as "inspiration porn", with so much facetiousness and sarcasm.

Young was a board member of the Ministerial Advisory Council for the Department of Victorian Communities, Women with Disabilities Victoria, the Youth Disability Advocacy Service and the Victorian Disability Advisory Council. Her advocacies were contributory to the campaigns for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

But aside from her personal accomplishments and involvement in battling discrimination, Young was described by her friend, the comedian Catherine Deveny, as a "writer, comedian, activist, feminist, educator, pleasure seeker, free thinker, truth teller, street fighter, Friday night dancer, atheist, hair model, knitter and crip" on Facebook.


Image Source: Barrylb thru Wikimedia Commons

"I want to live in a world where we don't have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own names in the morning. I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people." - Stella Young


Stella Young’s satirical, hilarious and fearless expressions served both as an eye-opener and a motivation for many people. So to commemorate Young, here are five famous passages that clearly express, in one way or another, the life of this champion.



"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal." - ALBERT PINE

On Young's support for the battle against inequality and discrimination, which led to the realignment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.



"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." - WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

On Young's dauntless statements about the challenges that people with disabilities face, and how they are being treated unfairly.



"If you can't fly, then run.

if you can't run, then walk,

if you can't walk, then crawl,

but whatever you do,

you have to keep moving forward." - MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

On how Young dealt with her congenital disorder.



"Life well spent is long." - LEONARDO DA VINCI

On the quality and brevity of Young's life.



"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." - WOODROW WILSON

On how Young lived a meaningful life by starting her advocacy for the disabled community at the age of 14.


Young may have unknowingly lived through the last quote, but her contributions to the society and her legacy made her a "crip" (a word that makes her feel strong and powerful) who was larger than life. She dedicated her days, enthusiastically living her dreams and provocatively increasing awareness on the reality of what disability actually is; all while having so much exuberance! Young influenced others by living her life boldly. Her strength of character, intelligence, humor and pure heart will always be remembered. Indeed, she may not consider herself as an inspiration- but she's a legend. And all of us- disabled or non-disabled, are worthy of this title, as long as we work hard in reaching for our goals. As long as we get up each time we fall, learning from the bittersweet lessons in life. As long as we fight for something that we passionately believe in, and as long as we remain selfless by being brave enough to uphold for something, with an aim to improve the quality of the lives of our fellowmen.




“Listen, Stell. I can't tell you for certain that you and I will ever meet. Perhaps that thing I always say flippantly, usually with a third glass of wine in my hand – that I'm here for a good time not a long time – perhaps that's true.”

Stella Young’s letter to herself at 80 years old  



*Primary Image Source: Barrylb thru Wikimedia Commons