When I was in 5th grade, my teacher told our class a story about a gentleman she used to work with. This man had a daughter with minimal mental faculties from birth. Every day at work, he would hear people constantly use the word "retarded" as an insult. My teacher said every time the gentleman heard it, you could see the pain in his eyes, but he never changed his politeness to the costumer. My teacher then asked the gentleman why he never reacted when that word was used, and he said, "You can't change a person's heart or views by being hateful. You change their perceptions by showing compassion and kindness. You can't argue with ignorance."
That story stuck with me for so many years because that is the truth, you can't argue with ignorance.
Since hearing this story, I have grown to find people with special needs or disabilities to be some of the most inspiring, thoughtful, and ambitious individuals. While I see this light and this passion within them, I have noticed that most of society does not. They are often looked at as "less" and used as a form of insults.
These people are not defined by their disability. They are just as "normal" as you and I.
I am not the only person who has found so much potential and so much love for these individuals. I asked a few people who are friends or relatives to someone with special needs/disabilities to tell me how they have simply made their life better.
Emma and Ben
"Ben is my younger brother, and he was diagnosed with motor and speech apraxia. His strength and willpower to get through whatever challenges he faces inspire me to constantly keep pushing forward, especially when things aren't easy. He is always positive and fun to be around. He loves sports and has never let his disability hold him back. Seeing him play baseball and have patience at the plate to hit the ball never fails to make me smile. He is one of the funniest people I know and always brings the party. I know I count on him to make my bad days good, and that's my favorite thing about him."
Madi and Ryan
"Ryan has cerebral palsy, but his attitude would never show it. We are buddies from Miracle League Baseball in my hometown. The look on his face and his happiness when he hits the baseball or goes around the bases remind me that no worries or stress is worth being upset about. He encourages me to not let the little things I can't control bother me. He makes me grateful and appreciative. When we aren't playing baseball together, we love to swim in his pool and play games with his mom and twin sister."
Luke and Camryn
"Camryn has Down's Syndrome, but that doesn't stop her. Cam makes me better because I see that I constantly have someone mirroring my every move. I try to do the right thing so she sees good and does good. I see her looking up to me, but she hasn't noticed I also look up to her. Cam inspires me to see happiness in everything. She is always making jokes and having fun, which makes me want to be more like her. She has always been my biggest fan; I remember at one of my high school soccer games, everyone was cheering, but the only voice I could hear was her's. She shows me that life is a great thing, even when it feels like it isn't."
Our world is nowhere close to realizing how unbelievably amazing these people are, but until then, I will continue to pray and share only positive stories about these encouraging and unique individuals so they get their well-deserved appreciation.