Preparing for a hopeful spot on the Paralympics team, college student Michael Kinoshita tells DOR the path he has followed as a blind student-athlete. After dealing with cyber-bullying and loss of friends through the years, Kinoshita shares his insightful life motto that reminds him just how much he is capable of.
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Michael - My name is Michael Kinoshita, I'm a junior currently at William Jessup University. I'm 21 years old, I've run cross-country and track since I was a freshman in high school so it's been about eight years now. I was born with a disability called achromatopsia which means I have a twenty-two-hundred-or-below visual acuity, depth perception and lack of peripheral vision issues and also photosensitivity, so as light gets brighter, my vision gets worse. I originally didn't need a ton of assistance because my high school was really good at providing it. Once I graduated and I had to go to college, then we didn't know what to expect, so we went to the DOR to see how they were willing to help me perform better in the classroom.
In my experience, there is a little bit of a stigma when I use the cane. People are definitely more willing to help me if they see me using it and when I don't use the cane, no one is actually aware of my impairment because its not something you can actually see. Most people will just think, "you know, he's visually impaired but that doesn't really mean anything." There was a lot of discounting of the struggles I actually went through but at the same time I was getting a lot of attention in the media for things I was doing with the United States Association of Blind Athletes and Paralympics and a lot of other running organizations associated with people with disabilities and so there was a lot of jealousy surrounding that.
I was getting cyber-bullied over Facebook, I was resented a lot, I didn't have a lot of friends - the friends I thought I had basically stabbed me in the back. they weren't good friends anymore. Yeah - there have been some rough roads and I see that everywhere I go. You know, there's good people and bad people, some will be very supportive of me no matter what and some won't. I've seen people's true nature more easily than others.
Just because you don't have visions doesn't mean you can't see the visual horizon. If you let your obstacles become your master, if you let negativity and what everyone tells you what you can and can't do define who you're gonna be, than you won't achieve. But if you decide to ignore that go with the voice in your head that says, "I can do this," you'll be able to achieve and if you put the work in, you'll be surprised just how much you can actually accomplish, despite all the things that are working against you.