“I love my body,” says Edward Ndopu, “albeit a complicated affection.” This “complication” is the spinal muscular atrophy that confines his wiry frame to a wheelchair. But his genetic disorder has no such control over his mind. As a teenager attending Johannesburg’s African Leadership Academy, Ndopu founded the Global Strategy on Inclusive Education. Having battled to attend a mainstream school that could accommodate his needs, he has used the organisation to campaign for the educational rights of children with disabilities and has become an internationally renowned thought leader and activist for people with special needs. Ndopu has spoken at Yale University, delivered the keynote address for the International Association of Special Education 12th biennial conference, and won a scholarship to study at Canada’s Carleton University, where the 21-year-old’s studies focus on educational justice and inclusion. This month he will take an internship with the World Economic Forum, where he will make presentations on key links between education and business.
— Ian Macleod