Gender Gender Kid's Corner

Disability is not inability: children need motivation

EVERY parent wishes to have a child who is perceived ‘normal’ by society with the hope of ensuring that such a child has the best opportunities in life.  Bringing up a disabled child requires a lot of encouragement, determination and perseverance for such a child to excel, including having access to quality education. Some parents cannot fathom taking care of a disabled child; consequently, the negative attitude limits the possibilities and options available for such children.
However, it is important to note that, although disability takes many forms, it does not take away the possibility of such people to function normally and achieve their full potential. There are numerous examples of how people with various forms of disabilities have gone to live fulfilling lives and even achieve much more with the support of parents and others around them.
Catherine Kaseketi, Zambia’s first female profession director and human rights activist who ended up being paralysed through a medical error in one of her legs making mobility difficult, is one example.
The disability did not limit her; Catherine trained as a tailor and designer before moving to Zimbabwe where she studied theatre, eventually graduating from Newtown Film and Television School in South Africa. She has gone on to write, direct and produce a number of films and documentaries, some of which have been shown in several European countries. She is the founder of Vilole Images, a non-profit foundation that educates young Zambian film-makers.
And shortly after the release of her first film ‘Suwi’, Catherine was approached by a group of disabled women who were inspired by the film. With them, she set up a project to help improve the lives of women living with disabilities. Many of Catherine’s films and documentaries address issues that affect disabled women.
Physicist, cosmologist, author and director Stephen Hawking is another example of someone with a disability but living an extraordinary life. Stephen, who was born in 1942 in England, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis when he was 21 while studying cosmology at the University of Cambridge.
Despite the devastating illness, Stephen has gone on to achieve innovative work in the fields of physics and cosmology, and has written several books that have helped to make science accessible to everyone.
And being born without arms and legs has not limited Australian Nick Vujicic from leading a full life. Nick, a captivating and powerful motivational speaker and founder of the Los Angeles-based non-profit Life without Limbs, gives hope to those born with disabilities.
As a teenager, Nick, who wanted to be as independent as he could be, was always encouraged by his parents from an early age who told him: “You don’t know what you can achieve until you try it.” In spite of his disability, Nick is able to swim and do other activities like fishing, snowboarding, brush his teeth and wash his hair. Nick believes that it is not what an individual possesses but what one can do with it; he is never afraid to try and fail.
Nick, who graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree with double major in accountancy and financial planning when he was 21, began motivational speaking at age 19. Despite being bullied in his teenage and young adult years, he thrived and never gave up.
He started giving talks at his prayer group when he was 17, after his mother showed him a newspaper article about a man dealing with a severe disability.
It is important to give children born with disabilities the support for them to have an opportunity to achieve their dreams; every child has the right to dream and to actualise those dreams. It is gratifying to learn that Government has awarded bursaries to all 40 students with disabilities who applied for financial support under the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA).
Minister of Higher Education Nkandu Luo last week said that the National Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre (NVRC) in Ndola has now been included on the government bursary scheme.
The availability of bursaries will definitely empower the beneficiaries to live an independent life once they acquire their skills; which most young people living with disabilities often lack even when they have the intellectual ability to excel. Disability should never be viewed as an impediment because all children are the same and they deserve equal opportunities including access to quality education.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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