My name is Kingsley Ijomah, founder of CODEHANCE, a software engineer, para rower in training for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo and a traveller with a passion for exploring the world and a really content happy complete human being.
How the f*ck did I get here?! it was never supposed to be this way, sometimes I think it is all a dream but somehow few actions mixed with what I don't know has put me on this path, and I want to share some of it with you.
I am a first generation immigrant, I was born in Nigeria, as a teenager I moved with my family to England that was some 21 years ago, we started all over again, for us the kids, that meant new friends, new environment to get familiar with, completely new culture to learn and integrate into our lives, that was not easy, but it was at this point in my new school that I met my mentors, they introduced me to coding.
I had started thinking about what sort of profession I was really going to do, my disability motivated this thinking, my mentors at school, suggested I learn computer programming, that journey is a direct reason for the birth of CODEHANCE, but my personal story also feeds directly into this narrative, so let me start with that.
As a 9 months old baby, I became very ill, soon it was discovered that I had been affected by polio, muscle wasting f*cking disease, both legs affected and that was it, I will never walk un-aided, callipers, wheelchair, crutches were all going to be part of my life indefinitely. As a person with a disability the future you are shown growing up is one in which limitations exists in every single corner, everything came into question, what sort of job can I do, what sort of life awaits me, this was a heavyweight that I had to shift somehow…
One of my earliest memories as a child was spending crazy loads of time watching people walk, studying how weight is moved from one foot to the other, how people managed to stand without help, this became my obsession. I was so convinced that I could heal myself, it was a matter of learning how to do it, I would practice every day, each day I get closer to standing without help, and one day I did it!!! when my mother got back home, I had a demo to show my family "I could stand unaided, and if I stood just like that no one will know I was disabled" it was a triumph, we celebrated it, I won my first fight against polio, but there was a problem with this.
Years to come, I was still fighting my disability, this was taking over my life, the truth was that I was disabled, and yet there are no pictures of me as a child with crutches or of me walking with callipers, before any photos are taken, my crutches would be quickly hidden, and I will use my new found technique to stand upright, this was very uncomfortable but it gave the impression that I wasn't disabled in the picture and that was the goal.
I remember a photo shoot from hell, the photographer took too long with instructing everyone to be in a perfect position, by the time he took the photo, I was literally shaking! I had been standing without crutches on the same spot way too long, any moment I was going to fall over, luckily I just made it to the end of the shoot, this got me thinking…
I had to embrace my so-called disability, I had to become the best version of who I am meant to be, I no longer need prayers of healing from random strangers, albeit, from a good place, I no longer wanted to hear what I can or can't achieve, I will not fit into anyone's world anymore!, that is my true story, a journey into loving myself and becoming the best of me for the world to see!
It was surprising how much my perspective changed, when I went from fight to embrace, I searched for things I could do for exercise to build up the muscle I could control, my upper body, so I hit the gym hard, I discovered wheelchair basketball, water skiing and went to town with adaptive rowing, this was when I truly started living.
To be brutally honest, firstly I created CODEHANCE out of selfish reasons, to show that I can do whatever I set my mind to do as long as I stay true to myself, and to make visible to the world the fact that we are not limited by whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, you can shine just the way you are, disabled or not.
Secondly, nobody can ever take away from you the knowledge you have acquired, my mentors from school, Peter Chester and Harvey Baxter taught me coding skills, and that became my foundation, my profession. We all have different backgrounds, our stories are different and you cannot replicate someone else's story, but there are factors we can learn and make a part of our journey, learning to code opened up many doors for me and allowed me to live a better life.
Just as I had mentors to guide me in this section of my life, I decided to make it my quest to become a mentor for others, as of Jan 2019 I have taught just over 3,000 students on various platforms, my dream for CODEHANCE is to use it to make an impact in the life's of thousands and millions of people all around the world.
Technology is here to stay, the fastest way to get your idea out into the world is through technology, the best way to see the world and be in control of your financial destiny is through technology, I got into coding by having mentors tell me about it, I have created CODEHANCE to relay that information to anyone with any background, whatever your story, on here you will learn a life-changing skill.
If my story made an impact on you and you would like to get in touch, I would love to hear from you.