This I Believe

Daena - Coral Gables, Florida
Entered on October 8, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that we live in a world where people with disabilities should be given the same opportunities and benefits as those without. Since the start of the war in Iraq there have been more and more soldiers returning with physical and emotional handicaps, I believe that these people should have the same opportunities as they did before they left for war. Its like the Rehabilitation act of 1973 says “Disability is a natural part of human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to live independently, enjoy self-determination, make choices, contribute to society, or pursue meaningful careers.”

My first experience with people with disabilities was in my freshman year of high school when I started as a volunteer at a Non Profit Organization called Shake A Leg Miami. It is a place that hosts a summer camp for children in any mental or physical condition. I was nervous at first but with in the first day I was shown by a camper who was physically very disabled by Cerebral Palsy that he may “look” disabled but his mind is “all there,” once the summer was over, the camper was returning to his hometown in Texas to continue his rigorous after school activity of learning Computer Technology, he had even spent a week at Caltech learning Computer Technology. This made an impression on me, I stopped looking at those with handicaps differently, and I started attending the trips that my youth group made to a home for Mentally Handicapped Adults; named MAC Town.

My sophomore year of high school I went on to hold the position as Social Action President in my temples youth group, one of the many projects we did dealt with the home MAC Town and participating in holiday parties such as “A Very, Very Un-birthday Party,” and a Halloween Party. We usually let one or two of the MAC Town Clients to start the events off by making a speech that always makes my youth group and me tear up. There is one client who we always make sure speaks, he always tells everyone “don’t make fun of me, or look at me different cause I’m just like you, and I deserve to be treated just like you!” Everyday that I worked in the summer seeing the smile of a camper always made my heart swell knowing that we were instilling the idea that these kids can do anything in their minds

Now in my senior year of high school I work during the summers and intern during the school year at Shake A Leg Miami and I am even more aware of the equality that those with disabilities deserve. All these things I’ve experienced; working with those who are disabled in any way has really shown me that its not just equality I believe in, I believe in giving everyone the same opportunities and choices no matter what their physical and mental condition may be.