No Barriers Essay Contest, 1st place!

Last but certainly not least in our No Barriers Mindset essay contest is the winning entry from Michelle Smith. I think Michelle Smith really captured the spirit of my message and has implemented the mindset in her own life. For her winning entry, Michelle will receive the Grand Prize, an awesome tent from my longtime sponsor, Mountain Hardwear.

Thanks to all the students who entered the contest. This was our first effort and we will likely do another one in the future (earlier in the school year). Please leave a comment on my blog about what you liked, or didn't like, about this contest.




Michelle Smith, 11th Grade, Piqua High School, Piqua, Ohio

Tangible tools, such as prosthetics and bikes and canes, assist millions of the disabled every day. While they’re useful in many events, there is no greater tool than the No Barriers Mindset, an undefeatable attribute of the human spirit. In order to attain this state of mind, gained through encouragement, people can use one another as an unfailing way of means. In addition, everyone can turn to their dreams, their idols, their past, and even their doubts in order to find the strength needed to keep pushing. Yes, each and every human being is able to utilize tools when working through barriers, and these tools come from within the mind, growing more enduring when combined with the conviction of others.

Although I am neither an amputee nor blind, the No Barriers Mindset applies to my life in a very empowering way. From the day we are born, we all face challenges; some are more difficult and painful than others, but each trial demands to be conquered. Currently, I am faced with a sports injury that doctors say will prevent me from playing soccer for most of my senior year of high school. My desire to be standing on the pitch as the first game begins has driven me to push myself in everything from standing in class to running in therapy. Despite the many setbacks I have encountered, I refuse to draw back, to give up. Every time I successfully climb the stairs, I like to believe that I am one of those amputees or blind men reaching the summit, without a barrier in sight.

As Erik brings the qualities and tools of the “No Barriers” mindset up front for the entire world to see, we are reminded that the only true disability lurks in our minds and achieving the impossible is more possible than we conceive.

No Barriers logo, clean

Links to the other winners:

2nd Place

3rd Place

Runner Ups