There are few toys with as universal an appeal as Lego. Those simple colored bricks immerse people of all ages in a world of creativity, imagination, and fun.
For 44-year-old Desmond James Calvert, also known as “DJ The Lego Man,” constructing Lego kits has been a huge source of satisfaction since he picked up his first brick as a child.
He has over 50 completed Lego models within his house, some of which consist of over 4,000 pieces, and he’s always challenging himself to construct the most complex model kits. You might describe him as a “master builder.”
But the most extraordinary part is that he does it all without any hands.
Calvert was born premature without fully developed arms or legs, but that has never stopped him from doing what he wants to do.
“From when I was first able to crawl, I could figure out how I could lift something or touch something or do something,” he told The Epoch Times.
So, when he received his first Lego set for Christmas as a 9-year-old, it didn’t take him long to learn how to build.
“I thought ‘Ok. How am I going to build this?’ But really I just took to it like a duck to water!” he said.
The first Lego set he ever built was a digger, which he has kept together to this day. It was an unexpected gift from his parents who weren’t particularly well-off at the time.
“It all started when I saw an advertisement on the TV for Lego and I went up to [my parents] dropping hints for Santa and I kind of thought nothing of it,” Calvert said. “And then I saw this big box and opened it and was like ‘Wow!’ because I didn’t think I’d get it.”
From there, Lego became Calvert’s favorite hobby and stress-reliever, helping him take his mind off everyday life.
From Lego Fan to Lego Man
Despite being a lifelong hobby of his, Calvert only started getting known for his Lego building in the last year, and has since appeared in newspapers, on radio shows, news programs, and in magazines. It was through this publicity that he became known as DJ The Lego Man.
He hasn’t let the fame go to his head though and has instead been using his newfound profile to inspire: He wants to show everyone that you don’t have to let life’s challenges get in your way.
“If kids maybe have lost a limb through an illness or an accident or even adults who may have been in a war … and they just think ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’ve given up. I don’t want to do it, I can’t,’ I’m trying to get across to them that you can do this! This is what I have, you can do it!” he said.
He’s demonstrated this not just through the Lego creations he has built but also through his willingness to step out of his comfort zone and into the community.
Inspiring the Community
On March 23, Calvert engaged in a “Lego Battle” against his local emergency services and Community Rescue Service to raise money for families of autistic children in Northern Ireland.
Calvert teamed up with his brother-in-law for the competition, in which teams of two from each service sat around a table and were given five minutes to build a model from a set.
“I came third, but I had the toughest set to build,” he said with a chuckle.
Knowing that Lego is a great tool for stimulating children’s imaginations, he has made numerous guest appearances at local schools over the past few months to teach kids about life with a disability, Lego, and how they both come together.
“I think that because kids are easily influenced now and they have laptops and they’ve got their iPads and computer games, I’m trying to sort of educate them and get them away from all that and use their creativity to build something,” he said.
The kids loved him, especially after some of them had seen him on the news.
“They said ‘DJ, you’re more famous than Justin Bieber’ and I said ‘Oh no, I don’t think so. I don’t think so,’” he recalled with a laugh.
Another student told Calvert he had made his whole year.
After such a positive experience, Calvert has made it his goal to visit more schools across Northern Ireland when classes start again in September.
Prior to becoming The Lego Man, Calvert was rather shy when it came to speaking about his disability. But buoyed up by the positive feedback, this clearly isn’t the case anymore.
“I’ve always kept myself to myself,” he said, “but this has been a good thing for me, this has brought me out of myself, [and shown] that I can help somebody here by what I have and what I can offer.”
While there are many lessons Calvert could teach about how to build certain Lego sets, the number one lesson he wants to impart is this:
“If you have a disability, it’s not the end. It’s only the beginning.”