No Barriers Essay Contest Runner-ups

Back in April, I created an essay contest for students to explore the No Barriers Mindset. My goal was to get kids thinking about how they can apply some of my “tools” in their own lives to not just overcome challenges but shatter them.

The response was fantastic! We had 57 entries from around the country. Since this contest was open to students of all ages, the criterion used for selecting the best was the heart of their message. The winning entries are the ones that conveyed a sincere belief in turning into the storm of life and taking on challenges. Of course, there were many great essays and it wasn’t easy winnowing out the best.

Today I am sharing excerpts from the three runner-ups. Each of these students will receive a signed photograph of me on the summit of Everest.

Tomorrow I will post the third place essay, the author of which will receive a Reach pendant. On Thursday, I will post the second place essay and that student will receive a pair of Leki trekking poles. And on Friday, I will post my favorite essay, which wins a great camping tent from Mountain Hardwear!

Thanks to all the students who entered!


Abdallah Mbow, 6th grade, Charles S. Rushe Middle School, Land O' Lakes, FL

There are tools everyone can utilize. These tools are patience, courage, and audaciousness. The patience is very much needed because getting used to your new way of living takes time and effort. If you just give up, you won’t get anywhere in your life. Courage is important because if you are too scared then you won’t try new things. Audaciousness is needed because you have to be daring and go beyond your MENTAL BARRIERS.

The No Barriers Mindset applies to my life because it shows how anyone can be inspiring and that I should not try to do everything for a “disabled” person. It also shows that I should not ever have an excuse for anything. It allows me to also reach for dreams that seem far because these people have made their dreams come true.

Andrew Mead-Colegrove, 4th Grade, Brocton Central School, Brocton, NY

Erik has needed to be focused, brave, and strong. These tools and qualities have helped Erik have no barriers. The No Barriers Mindset applies to my life because I am visually impaired like Erik. I had to learn Braille. Learning to participate in sport and gym were a challenge to me. I am currently learning how to dive in a pool and walk safely in my hometown. So tools are utilized by everyone when working through barriers.

Lauren Murtha, 7th Grade, George H. Moody Middle School, Richmond, VA

The No Barriers Mindset applies in my life in so many ways. Since I am in the International Baccalaureate Program at Moody Middle, I have to juggle schoolwork, sports, and other activities all at once. Sometimes I feel as if I cannot get everything done and that I want to just give up, but I know that if I left things until the end, I would be even more stressed out than before.

In gymnastics, I use the No Barriers Mindset a lot. When learning something new, I have to overcome the obstacle of learning the skill. Even when I am practicing an old skill that I already know, I have to overcome barriers. The old skills eventually have to be perfected, and I have to work very hard to do so.

All in all, the No Barriers Mindset is all around us. People with disabilities aren’t the only ones who use the No Barriers Mindset. Everyone at some point in his or her life has to overcome a struggle or obstacle in order to achieve something big.

No Barriers logo, clean