Just Because They’re Wheelchair-Bound?

Just Because They’re Wheelchair-Bound?

(On the Creative Streak of Many Physically Challenged Individuals)

Isa ka ba sa mga tao na ang tingin sa mga may kapansanan ay wala nang silbi sa buhay? Iniisip mo ba na dahil baldado ang mga ito ay wala na silang interes na paglaanan ng panahon kung ano man ang kanilang hilig, lalo na sa larangan ng sining o literatura?

Many people see wheelchair-bound and other physically challenged individuals as people who do nothing but eat and sleep and stroll around malls and other places; worse, as dependent residents of nursing care homes who just watch TV most of the day and wait for nurses and aides to feed and do other stuff for them. What they seem not to realize is that many of these individuals with physical disabilities have also creative interests and try as much as they can to pursue these.

Try sitting down with an elderly or a physically challenged and spend a considerable amount of time talking with him—I mean, really talk with him and listen to his stories, and you will surely be in for a surprise—that he too has lived (or even still living) a colorful life, as animated as or even more interesting than yours. You will find also that, despite his physical disabilities, his brain just like yours may have strong streaks of creativity that he wants to pursue and express in whatever way he can.

Let’s take for example Kyle Peters, a 23-year-old lively and sociable lad residing at Riverview Health Centre where I work. Kyle is suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy – “a severe form of muscular dystrophy characterized by rapid progression of muscle degeneration, leading to loss of ambulation.” According to Kyle, he was four when doctors found out that he has the said affliction. He said he was 13 when he began to use the wheelchair. Only about two years ago, he could still use his hands to draw and write; however, as the disease progressed, he eventually lost full functions of his arms. Kyle said that when he could still use his hands, he wrote poems and drew a lot. Poetry and art are two of his passions. Add to that, playing video games, watching action movies, watching hockey, and listening to Rock and Hip-hop music.

When Kyle learned that I write for a local newspaper, he asked me if I could publish some of his poems and drawings. I said why not, but I told him that I had a better idea: Instead of simply publishing some of his works, I would feature him to be able to highlight the fact that his condition didn’t prevent him from pursuing his creative interests. I believe that the article will correct the misconception of some people that physically challenged individuals like Kyle have boring and useless lives. I hope also to inspire other physically challenged persons to pursue their hobbies, use their talents, and maximize their remaining abilities.

As an artistic person myself and with a degree in Nursing (with Psychiatric Nursing being my favorite area) and a certificate in Social Psychology, and currently working at a health care center dealing with people with physical disabilities, behavioral challenges, and medical problems, I can easily see through people and work around their idiosyncrasies. These are also reasons I am able to tap the talents and interests of people like Kyle.

In view of that, I always encourage residents of the place I work to pursue their creative talents and other interests like writing, drawing, singing, or even just listening to their favorite music—activities that are therapeutic for their condition and that can uplift their spirits and boost their self-esteem and self-worth. And most of all, worthwhile activities like those ease them of their boredom and burden especially that they are living more routinely and challenging lives than ordinary people like me.

Music and art are said to be food for the spirits; they help people forget their disabilities and difficulties, enabling them to live every day as normally as possible despite the world’s abnormalities.

Sa Madaling Salita
Sa susunod na makakita ka ng taong may kapansanan, wag mong isiping sila ay walang saysay sa mundo at ituring na walang kulay ang kanilang mga buhay.

Or, in Simple Words
The next time you see a physically challenged person, look at them in a very positive light. Recognize their individuality and realize that despite their limited physical abilities, they have also talents and interests that they want to pursue, especially if only given the chance and the appropriate tools and assistance.

Despite his inability to use his hands to write with a pen, Kyle has turned to the computer to pursue his poetry. He still writes poems once in a while using the computer.

Thank You, Mom
by Kyle Peters

From the heart of a son
Thank you for all you have done

When I fell apart
You would heal my heart

When I gave up
You kept my chin up

When I was distraught
You always fought

All of your might
Made me keep up the fight

From the heart of your son
I love you, Mom

(Ableism is a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities. It is known by many names, including disability discrimination, physicalism, handicapism, and disability oppression.)