Todd and Franklin Roosevelt

Youngcare Resident Todd Winther

17 May 2015

Todd takes us into his apartment at Sinnamon Park and shares his most admired person in history – Franklin Roosevelt.

There’s this picture on my wall;

Youngcare Resident Todd Winther

I purchased it four and a half years ago at the start of my debilitating depressive episode, which led me on my journey to Youngcare. My psychologist suggested that rather than constantly looking at things that reminded me of past events, I should focus on the person that I admired most.

There are many reasons that I instantly chose Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American President between 1933-1945. Some are obvious, others not so. He is arguably history’s greatest political leader. He was also physically disabled. Roosevelt’s ability as a political leader, the same qualities that helped him withstand the enormous challenges of the Great Depression and the Second World War are directly linked to the challenges he faced with his disability.

Roosevelt first contracted the polio virus in 1921, at the age of 39, 12 years before he ascended to America’s highest political office. It was the first time in his whole life Franklin Roosevelt did not get what he wanted after a privileged upbringing and a charmed political career.

In most cases, having a disability teaches you empathy, compassion and a greater understanding of human nature. We are not merely people who face challenges every day, we excel in life because the tenacity and persistence required to live are transferred into all of our other pursuits. That was certainly true in Roosevelt’s case.

I would argue that without his polio he would have not been President. There would be no New Deal, the program that created the first welfare state, which introduced the system of benefits for the unemployed, the disabled, and other marginalised groups. This Welfare State sustained economies worldwide for the latter half of the 20th century. Without Franklin Roosevelt, life in the Western World as we know it would not exist.

If there’s one quote that encapsulates Franklin Roosevelt,  it would be this:

Early on in his Presidency, Roosevelt discussed the merits of implementing a policy. An aide told him ‘You can’t do that!’ to which he simply replied:

I’ve done a lot of things I can’t do’


Todd is a resident at the Youngcare Wesley Mission Brisbane Apartments at Sinnamon Park, a PHD Candidate in Political Science at Griffith University and an avid Port Adelaide Power supporter. Read Todd’s story by CLICKING HERE or head over to his personal blog “Thoughts of a frustrated visionary“.

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