December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This celebration, created by the United Nations, seeks to celebrate over one billion people worldwide living with some kind of disability. Disability is so natural that this number equals 15% or more of the total population of the world.
Many people ask themselves, why celebrate or commemorate this date if disability is not a welcomed thing? But for me, the day is not about celebrating disability, but instead about celebrating all that is possible for people with disabilities, and all that they are capable of. As the mother of two children with disabilities, I’ve reflected a lot on this day, and here are my thoughts on what disability means, and why we recognize the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
We are all closer to it than we may believe. 1 of 9
Disability arrives in our lives through the birth or adoption of a child, or may unexpectedly appear after an accident or illness.
Disability is not an award 2 of 9
It is instead a common circumstance that hits hard when it touches us or a loved one. But we all have the right to see life from different perspectives. Why to judge?
Disability on its own is useless 3 of 9
However, combined with the unique abilities and individuality of human beings, it has the power to inspire others.
Disability is selfish and limiting on its own. 4 of 9
But when it becomes part of someone's life, it often loses its power. There is something even more powerful than disability, and that is called faith.
Living with a disability doesn’t make people disabled 5 of 9
Instead, it gives them the chance to discover different abilities that bring them pride and personal strength while using the maximum of their abilities at the same time.
It’s also true that not every person with a disability is happy or special. 6 of 9
People with disabilities are mere mortals, and like everyone else, they learn to choose between two options: Learn to be happy with what they have, or forever mourn the things they will never have or achieve.
Disability has the power to unify or divide individuals and families forever 7 of 9
It may strengthen the bonds of love, or irrevocably break them if the love was not strong enough.
Disability doesn’t diminish or limit 8 of 9
It challenges and invites us to believe in ourselves, to work even harder for the things we want, and to demonstrate to others that with perseverance, dedication and passion, everything is possible.
Disability is not a ruler by which to measure achievements or delays. 9 of 9
It is instead a tool to set a starting line, with the understanding that we may never reach the finish line. We are only allowed to look back and realize how far we've come.
Living with a disability is not a scholarship to heaven, but is certainly a path for learning to value our lives, love, and the small things. So on December 3rd we don’t celebrate disability, but the ability that is hidden within, and makes uniquely able all of those who live with a disability.