Juan Benages was born in 1972 in Benetusser, a small town near Valencia (Spain). He worked as a graphic designer for 6 years, after which he studied film directing. He is now a Social Integrator and a part of the ENIL team in Valencia, where he collaborates actively with the Spanish Forum for Independent Living in spreading the IL philosophy.
What is your personal experience of disability?
Since I was eight I lived as a person with functional diversity (disability). I have gone through many phases, some of them very hard, although I am very proud of the support and the respect of my decisions by my family and friends. Now I think I can say that I am living the way I like.
How did you discover the Independent Living movement? .
In 2003, Rosa Segrelles, a renowned IL activist spoke to me about the IL philosophy. Then I realized I had always agreed with it internally, but I never dared to implement it. So I decided to dedicate all my efforts to live independently and to help other people to do it.
Is there an area of Independent Living that you are especially interested in?
I am interested in peer support and functional diversity (disability) as a human rights issue.
Who has Influenced you the most, and how?
There are many people, such as Manuel Lobato, Adolf Ratzka, John Evans, Jamie Bolling, Martin Naughton …. I consider them to be role models for their dedication and energy.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I am very proud of having succeeded, overcoming all personal and social obstacles, to live independently and to choose how I want to live every day. I am also very proud to belong to the ENIL team.
The magic exists!
What motivates you to get up in the morning?
The importance of moving forward on my path to independence and the need to continue learning and sharing my knowledge with anyone who needs it.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I am passionate about computers, but I also like to enjoy a very cold beer and good conversation with my friends. My other passion is my family and i really enjoy playing with my three nephews. I become a child when I am with them!
Who would be your ideal dinner guests?
I would have loved to meet Ed Roberts. I love to organize dinners at home with any of my friends.
What advice would you give to young adults with a Disability?
Dream how you would like to live and find a way to make it come true. It’s possible!