Joanne hopes UN speech inspires people to believe they can achieve

A teenager, who was born without arms and legs, said she hopes to inspire people to believe they can achieve anything when she delivers an address to the UN later this week.

Joanne O’Riordan, 15, from Millstreet, Co Cork, flies out to New York today to deliver a speech at a UN global conference on Thursday in which she will outline how technology has enhanced her life.

Joanne, who suffers from an extremely-rare condition known as Total Amelia Syndrome, won the hearts of the nation last year when she forced Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reconsider cuts to disability payments. She later appeared as a guest on the Late Late Show.

Her brother Steven, who along with his parents, will accompany his younger sibling to New York, said that he has every confidence that Joanne will once again deliver a knockout performance to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union on Thursday.

But Steven, 28, a filmmaker who is recording Joanne’s weeklong trip to the Big Apple for a documentary about his sibling, said his sister is keeping her speech secret.

“She told me the title is ‘Technology and Me’ and that the theme of the speech will be, ‘because I’ve no limbs, I won’t be limited’.

“She’s prepared it herself and she hopes she’ll reach a global audience and give hope to other people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Joanne has been promised a celebrity- style 16th birthday she will never forget tomorrow night.

With the help of UN representatives, Steven and his parents Ann, 51, and Joe, 57, have arranged for their daughter to be whisked by limousine to the VIP section of New York’s Hard Rock cafe on Tuesday night.

A helicopter ride above Manhattan’s towering skyscrapers has also been organised for later in the week to ensure the transition year student has the trip of a lifetime.

And the inspirational teen will also get to meet Grammy-award winning songwriter Julie Gold, who was so moved by Joanne’s courage that she penned a charity single for her.

Steven wants the track to be included in the documentary on his sister, which starts filming tomorrow and will chart her daily life and challenges over four months.

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