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SwitchPoint: A Patient's Perspective


A conference like SwitchPoint could lead to a newfound global respect for my minority.

As a person who has been diagnosed with one of those “forever” conditions (cerebral palsy) since birth, I’ve spent a lot of time in places of healing.

Wonderful people with expensive tools, technical terms, and fancy sheets of paper with words I hardly understand spend an awful lot of time frantically running around. With coats of white and scrubs of red and blue, they seem to blend together in my mind like a confused flag waving in the wind.

As this past April came to a close, I was invited to an event in a little corner of North Carolina called Saxapahaw. It was there that I witnessed over 300 people gathered to change the world in a space of light they called SwitchPoint.

I could tell you about the specific ideas we heard at SwitchPoint, the ones that would restore your faith in a unified world. I could walk you through the laundry list of geniuses there, but I find I would trip on their humility and courage. I could open up about the friendships there, held close to the heart despite miles of distance, but none of that would be enough. This event deserves something more.

The global health community has a new sense of unity.

For 31 years, I had yet to find a place of healing that’s talked back to me in a language of both transformation and understanding. This new environment was the genuine exception.

This was more than a gathering of heart-centered human beings. This was a place that brought human nature back to its core element of service. This was a place where I could look back on my time of healing and feel proud of not just this experience, but also every healing human interaction before it.

I was able to look back on my therapy sessions and hospitalizations with brand new eyes. The interactions with these environments were no longer hardships, but rather gifts that could be opened over and over again in my memory.

You see, humanity needs more than healing. It needs the learned gratitude of the past, the faith of the present, and the hope for the future. SwitchPoint uses this trinity of time to create possibilities between people that you must see to believe.

It’s truly rare to see business moguls, bioengineers, tech geniuses, poets, musicians, inventors, and CEO’s all coming together in a circle of this magnitude. It’s a place where vulnerability proves its value to create change over and over. It is where creativity, altruism, sacrifice, and love come together to move the world forward in progress and, at the same time, back to the origins of true heroism.

When it came for my time to share, for once, I didn’t have much to say. All I could really muster during my performance was childlike appreciation, reminding those around me not to forget themselves in the midst of saving our great big world.

While the planet may seem huge most of the time, it was nice to see how small it can feel when we’re strong enough to come together as a species. Those are the moments when no problem is too great, no weight too heavy, and no struggle too eternal.

I became revitalized with a sort of new hope for those with physical challenges around the world.

Upon returning home, I became revitalized with a sort of new hope. Not just for me, but for those with physical challenges around the world. I believe a conference like SwitchPoint may lead to a newfound global respect for my minority. It will mean much more than access to better facilities and better treatment in very poor countries where these things are scarce.

I believe SwitchPoint is the seed that will lead to the end of genocide for people with disabilities. It will mean that our beautifully broken mirror images in a far-off land will have the means to change their stars. A chance to not only survive, but thrive in a new humanity where every individual is a vital part of one sphere, one family.  

The global health community has a new sense of unity. A new flag stands now in the face of the old. It’s a much taller flag. Perfectly sewn. Flying not wildly, or unknowing, but calmly, ready. After SwitchPoint, the only word forever gone with the wind is “impossible.”

SwitchPoint is hosted every year in North Carolina by IntraHealth International. It’s where humanitarian innovation, global health, and technology collide.