(On the Creative Streak of Many Physically Challenged Individuals)
Wala na bang silbi at maipagmamalaking talino at talento ang mga taong may kapansanan? Sa tingin mo ba, porke kulang ang kanilang pisikál na kakayanan, hindi na nila maaaring maisagawa ang mga bagay na karaniwang nagagawa ng mga normal na tao? Magdalawang-isip ka! Baka nga mas magaling pa at mas marami pang kayang gawin kaysa sa ’yo ang isang taong may kapansanan.
In a previous issue, I featured a resident at the health care center where I work who, despite his condition that rendered him wheelchair-bound and his arms and legs practically immovable, is still able to pursue his talent in drawing and writing poetry with the use of a computer with specialized controllers.
Now, I’m featuring yet another talented individual from the center. Her name is Sarah Fehr, who achieved something extraordinary, something even many physically normal individuals could not accomplish—write a book.
Despite her being wheelchair-bound and physically challenged since she was eight, Sarah was able to finish the autobiography she started making years ago. Fortunately Sarah can still use her hands in writing with pen and paper.
“I got polio when I was almost 8 years old, in June 1952. I had it severely. I was paralyzed more or less completely from my neck down…. It left me in a wheelchair and always having to wear a body brace to support my weak scoliotic back in the daytime…. In the hospital I was fortunate to have been able to continue my education. A teacher came to tutor me every day.”
The book, entitled A Fehr through All Seasons, began as a tape-recorded dictation of her recollection of many significant events in her life. Sarah painstakingly transcribed the contents of the tapes with the help of her younger sister Verna, who did the computer encoding of the transcripts. A copy of the manuscript was finally sent to the printing press in late 2010, and Sarah gave away copies of the book to family members, close friends, and some staff members of Riverview including me. (I took part in this literary project of Sarah by editing portions of the manuscript.)
Sarah graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Psychology at University of Saskatchewan and pursued Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology at South Illinois University in the United States. She worked as a speech language pathologist for 32 years.
“I started a degree in Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology at University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. I lived in a campus residence with a roommate the three years I was there. I enjoyed this very much; we had lots of fun especially on weekends when we didn’t have to study. However, my winters were very cold, long, and always plenty of snow. I always had to wait in the residence in the morning for someone who was willing to push my wheelchair to the building where classes were held. I was never sure if anyone would come along to help me. This was a daily worry for me.
“In my last year at U of S my social worker decided that I had been successful in getting my B.A. degree that pursuing higher education was warranted….After more discussion I agreed to pursue a Master’s program in Speech Language Pathology. Because few universities in Canada taught SLP, and none were accessible for wheelchair-bound individuals, my social worker considered universities in the USA. We applied to three universities, and the first one to accept me was Southern Illinois University in the small town of Carbondale, Illinois…. I had to study well because I felt obligated to Saskatchewan Government Rehabilitation Program, which footed all my bills and expenses…. I was at SIU for two years including three summers. These were some of the best years of my life.
“I retired from work in June 2002, and in March 2003 I developed severe breathing problems. I was hospitalized….a tracheal tube was put into my lungs; I was hooked up to a ventilator…. From Grace Hospital to Health Sciences Centre, I was then transferred to Riverview Health Centre in 2004.”
Sarah’s passion for writing began in her teenage years, when she regularly wrote entries in her journal. This carried on through her highschool and university years, citing Creative Writing as her favorite class.
“I pray that my life story will be an inspiration to all my family members. May my physical challenges that I overcame with perseverance, support from family and friends, and prayers inspire and motivate you to persevere in whatever worthy life goals you set and challenging circumstances you might face.”
Sa Madaling Salita
Hindi porke may kapansanan ang isang tao at hindi na nito nagagamit nang lubos ang kanyang mga kamay at paa e wala na itong kakayanang gumawa ng mga bagay na ultimo mga normal na tao e mahihirapang gawin. Basta matino pa ang pag-iisip at may lakas ng loob at isipang tuparin ang kanyang mga nais at pangarap, ang isang taong may kapansanan ay napakarami pang maaaring maabot sa kanyang buhay.
Or, in Simple Words
A person’s being wheelchair-bound should not deter her from pursuing many of her plans and goals. All she need is the willingness and determination to educate herself and hone her skills, strengths, and capabilities, maximizing all the resources available to her.