5 questions with Cam Calkoen


March 30 2015

Cam Calkoen is always a stand-out speaker at NYLD. Cam was born with Cerebral Palsy and was told that his two biggest challenges would be the way he walks and talks. But his passion and determination has seen him turn this “can’t do” diagnosis into a dynamic, “can do” attitude. This has seen him become an athletic gold medalist, charitable fundraiser and today an inspirational speaker.

Cam spoke again at the Palmerston North National Young Leaders Day for secondary students. We put five of your questions to Cam.

Cam who is your biggest inspiration?

“I’m inspired by all those who have had a dream and made it their reality. I try to find a story that celebrates this everyday – NYLD and websites like Ted are an awesome source of inspiration.”

Were your parents always supportive of you and your choices?

“My parents are real and humble human beings. They’ve supported my sister and I in everything we do. This doesn’t mean they’ve said YES to everything, but they’ve helped us find the right way about doing what we do – this comes through willingness from my sister and being open with them. Along with my parents I find it helpful to have ‘key’ people in your life you can talk with. As an individual, not everyone will agree with us 100% of the time. When this happens you want other minds to bounce ideas with so that you can decide the best idea for you.”

How old were you when you realised you had the potential to do great things?

“I always ‘believed’ I had the potential to do ‘great things’ in this world, however the realisation that I had to drive those was as a teenager (14) when Jeremy Wells told me that ‘the people who count in this world look for those who are different’. This inspired me to not just believe in the theory of my dreams but believe in the practical action to achieve them.”


“It’s not always the strongest, fittest people that achieve in life – it’s those that believe that believe they can achieve, Cam says.


Cam, I don’t pretend to assume that your life was easy from the get-go. It must have been hard. There must have been times when you were knocked down and the whole world was against you. How did you get up? Where did you find your drive?

“Life is hard for everyone at times, I’m not convinced that challenges come from just one thing. So to get through them I had the vision of to travel, entertain and connect. When the going gets tough, it is this vision that gets me through. When we have people in our lives to assist that is a bonus, a strong vision that we believe in will give us the strength in our toughest hours.”

You talked about your mentoring programme, what is it?

Carabiner is a mentoring programme for youth with extraordinary challenges, who have big dreams. Through linking their potential with the success of a high performing mentors dreams become a reality.”



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