When he was born premature, doctors told his mom he wouldn’t make it through the night. But Davian Robinson has been defying the odds ever since. Because of a condition, Davian gradually lost his sight during childhood, but it did not stop him from becoming a national champion Paralympic cyclist, being a dance major at UNC-Charlotte and taking up sky diving as his new hobby.
Davian seeks out ways to inspire and never quit trying new things and pushing the boundary of inclusiveness.
Davian “DJ” Robinson, UNC-Charlotte Dance Student and National Champion Paralympic Cyclist
I live by this thing called the never quit mentality. Never give up, never give out, never give in. When you can do that, life becomes easy.
Adapting, Striving and Thriving
For Davian “DJ” Robinson, pursuing his goals has never been something he’s shied away from, no matter how difficult the journey. Being visually impaired is no exception; to him, it’s not a deterrent.
“For me, I’m not a person with a disability; I’m not blind. I’m a person who adapts,” said Robinson.
He’s breaking barriers with a wide-range of passions, including sky diving and cycling. He now holds a national championship title in the latter, after five years of training and competing.
“Being a Paralympic athlete and being a cyclist for the last six years, you have to trust someone on a bike to guide you around; it’s crazy. But cycling is one of the hardest sports you could ever endure,” said Robinson.
A Dreamer’s Spirit
Robinson and his family are from Hickory, NC. They’re close, and his family has supported his ambitions over the years, no matter how many there were.
“When DJ was small, DJ was two handfuls,” said Davian’s mother. “He wants to do everything, he wants to try everything.”
Once a student at UNC-Charlotte, Robinson began to follow a new dream. He began pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance, which placed him in uncharted waters and a completely unique learning situation.
“Dancing for someone who’s blind, that’s unheard of. Not many people know of blind dancers, so for me this is to break through that barrier to inclusiveness; to bring inclusiveness into a space that they have not seen before,” Robinson said.
Robinson credits much of his learning in dance to his movement mentor, Lillian Willis. She works with Robinson in an unprecedented role to lead him, hands-on, through the choreography.
Willis said, “I am the thing that makes dance classes accessible to DJ. I have to be very present, he has to be very present. There has to be a lot of communication. It’s a very involved kind of work for both of us.”
Making the Stage Accessible to All
Inclusivity is a focus for which Robinson advocates in all aspects of his life. But he is especially focused on integrating this into the dance community at UNC-Charlotte.
For more awareness, his dance peers engaged in an exercise where they danced wearing blindfolds. This helped to gain perspective into Robinson’s life.
“I want them to come to the understanding that every space is a space of growth,” Robinson said, “no matter the disability, no matter the gender, no matter the circumstances.”
Mind Over Matter
Robinson admits that he knows pain, adversity and difficult situations all too well. But he’s never used any of those as an excuse not to run head-first in the direction of his dreams.
He said it’s with that “never quit mentality” that life becomes easy.
“You break through your own self barriers to come to something greater.”
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