Someone that pushes you to be a better YOU.

Love hurts us all at some points of life and this is inevitable. We all have love turbulences while we are traveling through life. I see myself and other people after crashing trying to put the broken pieces of their hearts back together. Focusing on a long term professional goal like becoming a social worker, has helped me move on from those who have punched my heart. Other people also rely on different resources such as time, hobbies, friends or just someone else that walks into their life. In this blog I will analyze how to pursue a healthy relationship from a disability perspective and for society in general as we have commonalities.

I have been raised to believe in the typical course of life through my own family examples and media. For me the ideal life stages involve growing up, studying a career, finding someone to get married, and having kids. However, the struggle of having this type of mentality is that these stages won’t necessarily take place in that specific order and they could take place in different ways. Therefore, fulfilling all of those dreams is highly important to me. Having a disability hasn’t got in the way of any of my dreams and I intend to keep it that way. For us with disabilities, we have the same dreams as everyone else. In order to fulfill our dreams it often takes more effort or a different way of approaching challenges but with patience and perseverance we can get through them.

Let’s face the truth, for able-bodied individuals being with someone that has a disability isn’t a typical thought that crosses their mind. Often times, I have met many girls willing to have some temporary fun but nothing serious. However, finding someone willing to commit is hard for everyone and in our situation it can be way harder. For us, before even dating or getting to know each other a challenge is already identified just by looking at the wheelchair. Until we educate others about how we manage to overcome every struggle that comes along with the disability we won’t be seen as serious dating material that easily. Usually once a person gets to know me very well they are able to stop seeing my situation as challenging. This obviously takes time so it doesn’t happen over night or after a few times of hanging out. In reality everyone is challenging in their own way. It is all about qualities so we need to take a moment to find those in people.

Within me and others in my particular disability community I have noticed that we tend to be too serious when we think about relationships. I feel like this happens as not everyone able-bodied would commit to us easily and once we find someone that wants to be with us we intent to want to keep that person around for life. Another component to analyze that is more associated with having a terminal illness is those of us that have less time to spend we want to find someone in time for us to still get to have kids and built a life with someone. The terminal illness aspect often sets up pressure on us. Although, we should let our lives flow and unfold in the way is meant to happen. Other able-bodied people also have other pressures at times if they begin to get too old to find a serious partner or if most of their friends are already getting married.

In theory, regardless of ability status we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to find someone because working under pressure won’t lead us to the best outcomes. We all deserve to take the time to find someone that will help us reach our dreams and will push us to be the best version of ourselves. We aren’t suppose to change our dreams for someone to accept us just because is challenging to find someone else. Rather, we should focus on finding someone that will stick with us and support us along the way towards those dreams we have set. In the same way we should support them to achieve their goals as reciprocation is key for relationships to prosper. Furthermore, if on our way to reach our dreams those individuals stop wanting to be part of our journey, that’s okay, we still need to focus on our personal goals no matter who is around us.

My father has always said to me to focus on getting an education because once you graduate with a degree that is something that no one will take away from you. I completely agree with him. A relationship can be a temporary happiness that doesn’t always depend on us. Nonetheless, being educated is something that we have more control over. I have decided to pursue a career in social work and focus on my own happiness first. With friends next to me I’ll enjoy my journey towards obtaining my Masters degree. On my way to fulfilling that dream if I find a girl that represents what I’m looking for regardless of ability status, that would be great! If not, it’s okay my happiness does not depend on finding someone to be with. My happiness depends only on the way I decide to approach life. We all need to focus on finding the positive aspects of the negative things that happen in our lives.

To summarize, my goal this 2018 will be to focus on my own happiness before trying to make someone else happy. In general, sticking to a dream that belongs only to us will always help us get over someone who could have hurt us in the past. It will not take the pain away all of the sudden but it will surely help us move on.IMG_3321

Privilege is REAL.

Equality can lead to higher levels of social, academical, mental health, general health and financial satisfaction. We all want to be satisfied in all these diverse areas and often will make decisions to satisfy these basic human needs. This is why immigrants often leave their countries of origin to come to America. As noted by Phd Carter-Black, universals are social phenomena that are shared by every social group. Therefore, this proves that we all have the same universals but in some cases people have to fight for them especially when the government doesn’t support every social group.

From a personal standpoint, I belong to two social groups that have their universal needs frequently threaten by the government of America. Yes, we claim this is the country of opportunities. Yet, the opportunities of those who are immigrants and have disabilities get constantly threaten to be taken away by the dominant group. For instance, DACA which supported illegal immigrants brought here as children might be no longer available. This will cause some immigrants to lose access to an education making them have unsatisfied needs. For those with disabilities, Medicaid the insurance that kept this social group alive, may take away the financial support that allowed this group to have power wheelchairs to get around, expensive surgeries, and other services. By taking away some of the financial support this group had, it will basically take away their right to live for those who don’t have the money to pay for expensive life-changing surgeries.

In addition, there are other areas I have struggled that don’t have do with any kinds of services. As a legal immigrant I don’t feel threaten but I still have the struggle of being a immigrant. Immigrants even if they are given the privilege to obtain a equal education and to work they face other challenges that many American workers will never understand. Until they take a moment to have empathy towards immigrants they will be able to become aware of the hardship that is associated with being an immigrant. We don’t just take advantages, we undergo through a complex process that should be acknowledged. There are three types of immigrants; cultural mainstreamers, cultural straddlers, and non-complaint believers.

Cultural mainstreamers try to fit in through assimilation and this type may only end up succeeding academically. Secondly, cultural straddles embrace bicultural beliefs and can switch back an forth across their cultures. These immigrants are able to succeed academically and socially so all immigrants should aim to be cultural straddles. Non-complaint believers, favor their own country cultural representation and fail to assimilate. They often succeed only socially. (Carter-Black, Cultural Assimilation). This content shows that it is complex for immigrants to adjust in order for them to succeed both academically and socially. But, if the government doesn’t support programs like DACA some immigrants won’t even have a chance to adapt.

Now, if we think about it the dominant group will never have to deal with being at a country unknown for them. They will never be afraid of losing their services. They will never be afraid to wake up the next day and get deported. They will never have to learn a new language for necessity. They will never have to work three jobs to support their families. They will never have to leave their loved ones behind in the attempt to satisfy their human needs. They will never be afraid to lose their rights. Lastly, they won’t be afraid of the struggle to find themselves in an unknown country.

According to the recognized socialist, Michael Kimmel, privilege is invisible to those who have it. We see discrimination but not privilege. This is the time for everyone to be equal and get rid of inequality in other to satisfy everyone’s basic human needs. The way a lot of people in a dominant group see attempts to reach equality is as reverse discrimination towards them. For instance, they claim that immigrants are stealing their jobs but they simply want to have the privilege to obtain jobs. As far as people with disabilities they say they waste too much money on us. Yet, we are just trying to live the most healthy and equal lives. Both groups are trying to fulfill their universal basic needs that the young able-bodied rich heterosexual white Americans already have in front of their eyes. Privilege, has closed the eyes of some of the people in the dominant group. I wrote this in the attempt to open those eyes into the light of empathy.

Overall, privilege is hidden under discrimination. Both, discrimination and privilege are as real as you and me. Multiple different groups are affected by both so take a moment to reflect and appreciate the privileges you have. Let’s acknowledge those innocent individuals that are trying everything to obtain some of our privileges. Most importantly, we need to love one another equally and we have to embrace our differences like God meant it. Therefore, policy makers of this country, American citizens, and our president need to consider the complex processes minority groups face. In order to understand that these social groups including immigrants and people with disabilities are humans with emotions and equal universal needs. In this case, American people who feel threaten by different social groups they should consider that these individuals are humans that share identical desires to succeed in their health, social, academical, mental, and financial needs. Having the ability to recognize that these individuals are different but have the same desires will encourage the government to keep on helping all minorities succeed in life. That is what has made the US such a great country throughout the history!

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The perks of being a Mexican Immigrant in the U.S.

As all of you know I’m a Mexican immigrant guy that rolls through his power wheelchair in Champaign and no I’m not a criminal. That basically sums up my identity but it doesn’t go into the actual core values and principles that define who I am. The truth is, several Mexican immigrants in multiple ways are like me from what I have noticed from asking other immigrant Mexican friends that I have. There is a pattern of ten perks that some of the Mexican immigrants I know have attached to their identity. In this blog I’ll list all of them.

Before I begin, I want to leave two aspects clear. First, not all Mexican immigrants are like this. Secondly, not all immigrants are Mexicans either there are immigrants that are Asians, Europeans, Africans and other countries in Latin America. Now let’s start with this detailed list of the ten main perks that I’ve discovered a good chunk of us share.

1. Most of us are Catholic or God believers. This allows us to be thankful every day for what we got. Also, we are able to believe in the unseen which helps us accomplish the impossible and try many things out of our comfort zone.

2. We are typically hardworking people. All of us usually realize that whatever we have, we have earned it with our work. For instance, both of my siblings since a young age work and help the family out when needed. Due to my disability I couldn’t do much but I’m always looking for opportunities to help out.

3. Family is one of the aspects of life we value the most. In my family we stay in touch all the time. I never go a day without talking to my parents. Plus, I feel like the union within the family is the best kind of support all ever find. My Hispanic friends usually stay in touch with their parents everyday as well. But, when I have asked people from different ethnicities usually they don’t stay in touch with their parents as much or find it strange that I have to call my mom every single day. They see it as a sign of weakness or something.

4. We are usually friendly people. Most us that were raised in Mexico believe everyone is our friend. Over in our lands everyone greets themselves by a hug and a kiss in the cheek which allows us to bond faster. When we say goodbye, same routine. Over here the greetings are more cold so is harder to know that someone likes you as a person or feels sad about saying goodbye.

5. Being a Mexican immigrant in this country makes you aware of how to fix your own country up. You never know how to fix a broken system until you emerge yourself in a better one. Since I came from Mexico I know exactly the aspects that are lacking in our country. For instance, there is no Medicaid insurance or any accommodations put in place by the government to help those with disabilities. Therefore, I’m aware of what exactly needs to be fixed in my country and I hope someday it gets better. I would love to create a organization to raise funds in order to set up better accommodations for people with disabilities in my country of origin.

6. We are usually more determined to obtain our goals. The way the determination of most immigrants works is that we always think that if our parents manage to immigrate to a different country and establish a good quality of life, I can do anything I set my mind to and it shouldn’t be as hard.

7. Immigrating has made almost all of us more responsible and independent at a younger age. For my siblings and I, we had to translate my mom in many situations which made us more responsible. Plus, in a lot ways we were more involved in our own health, my moms medical appointments, helping our parents solve problems, and in school. Many times we solve issues on our own before even asking for our parents help. At times they didn’t know how many aspects work since we were in a different country. We had to learn how this new country works together.

8. Most of us have pride in our nation and where we came from. Whenever we meet someone from Mexico we cannot avoid not talking to them and we usually ask them where they are from in Mexico. Plus, whenever we are in our lands we all feel like fishes in the sea – more comfortable than in any other place.

9. A lot of us have a tendency to be humble. No matter how successful we become we usually remember where we came from and we talk to all kinds of people no matter their status. For example, my sister is a dentist and has many friends who come from a rich household. However, she also still hangs out with her friends that never attended college.

10. Being a immigrant makes us get the best of both worlds. We maintain the useful principles from our country of origin and acquire new good principles from the country we immigrated to. Being born in Mexico taught me to be more friendly with others which is a good skill. However, in my specific town in Mexico we tend to care more about behavior or what people wear at times. Yet, here everyone is often care free. People wear pajamas to school or the store every now and then. That has taught me to not judge others by their cover or some of their behaviors. So, in that sense I have gotten the opportunity to get the best of both worlds.

Overall as you can all clearly see immigrant Mexicans are not all criminals. There is a lot more to us than what media or our president often think. If you think this way don’t lie to yourself, you are just being racist.

Anyways, not 100% of the Mexican immigrants are in the way I described them on this list. I don’t want to generalize. But, I wanted to show a different type of Mexican immigrants that is often not shown in media. To be honest, there is good and bad people in every ethnicity, religion and political ideology. Also, there are perks to all identities too. So, simply embrace the good aspects of who you are peacefully and be proud of it.

To conclude the post, being a Mexican immigrant is a blessing to me and it has been really beneficial to my life. I wouldn’t be half the man I am today if I wasn’t a Mexican that happened to immigrate in search of better opportunities. That one drastic change taught me the best of both worlds, made me more independent, and gave me determination to make the best out of the opportunities that come my way. I want to finish by saying that I’m proud to be a Mexican that’s humble, believes in God and values family over anything which in the end is all I got.

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14 common things that only guys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy will understand:

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Throughout my life with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy I have noticed some patterns between me and my bros with this disability. First of all, I think I should provide a definition of my disability for those of you who may not be familiar with it. My illness slowly degenerates my body muscles and it primarily affects males 1 in 3,500 to be exact. A way to describe my disease is that my muscles are like strong tires that have a hole in them and as time passes by they get weaker and weaker until they loose all of their air.

Currently, I have five close friends that have this same diagnosis and we always enjoy our deep conversations. So, I have found some commonalities that most of us share and some very distinct differences that make us who we are as a person. Obviously, we are all unique in some way or another like any human being. Therefore, here are some pet peeves, aspects of our illness, likes and dislikes about our situation that we all have shared with each other at some point in the past.

Warning: Some of this things may only apply to me and my friends with DMD.

1. Our feet and our muscles are sensitive which annoys our personal assistants or anyone helping us but there is nothing we can do so they must deal with it.

2. We tend to get cold easily so people will find it weird when we are wearing blankets when it’s around 70 degrees.

3. When our hands are very cold, we cannot longer drive our power wheelchairs.

4. We live life to the fullest and we often don’t give a crap because of our short life expectation.

5. The most annoying moment is when a bug lands somewhere in our body because all we can do is spin in circles and look crazy. Unless we decide to awkwardly ask a random person to help us take that terrifying looking thing off our body.

6. It annoys us that whenever we go out to bars we have to have someone helping us in case we drink too much and we have to pee. But, when we find a new friend willing to go out plus help us pee and put us to bed afterwards, that is the most rewarding feeling in the world.

7. We hardly ever go into a pool because of the logistics and time it will take us to get inside.

8. Every muscle that we stop using dies out. So, some of us try to do as much as we can to stay strong and others of us rather get someone’s help to stay comfortable. Sometimes it varies on the given day. Some days we want to do whatever we can to stay strong. Other days, we are just tired of trying so we would feel better if someone helps. So, simply ask us if we want to do the task on our own or if we need the help to accomplish it every time.

9. It’s often hard for us to believe that any girl would want to be marry or be in a committed relationship with us because of our disability and the idea of losing us at a young age. Especially when there are millions of able-bodied guys around they can choose that wouldn’t have that problem.

10. We hate wearing those heavy things that are known as coats because it makes it tough for our weak arms to move so we rather wear silly blankets or a light sweater.

Here is an example:

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11. All of us do love people but is sometimes rough for us to physically show it to our loved ones since we can’t give them hugs so we always have to ask for it. That’s too much work so sometimes we just forget but that doesn’t mean we don’t love you so don’t take it personal.

12. It annoys us the fact that when we want to kiss or make out with a girl we can’t just do it. We always have to ask first which allows the girls to think too deeply on weather or not is a good idea to do it. Although some girls find it better if guys ask for it so for those girls our situation is better. In the past, there is one skill I have used to get around the issue of not being able to kiss girls unexpectedly. The skill consists on that if the girl I am dying to kiss gives me a hug I just go for the kiss in that moment. Honestly, it has worked more than asking for the kiss politely.

13. When we get sick it sucks when we are at a public place by our selves with no one around to help and our nose starts running. Usually, the times I need something I’m comfortable asking others for help just not when my nose runs. People may find it super weird to blow someone else’s nose other than their own.

14. We have some hope in finding a cure to our disease. But, we have accepted our disability as it is and we don’t see it as something negative anymore. It is only a different life style because the disability doesn’t limit us from achieving anything our heart desires. We just sometimes need the help of others to accomplish some tasks. Other than that the disability itself doesn’t define us. We give the definition to it throughout our lives.

As you can all clearly see our lives aren’t easy just like any other life but we still feel blessed to be alive. For me, every day I get to breath is an accomplishment because I know others with my illness that didn’t get to make it to my current age. But, what me and some of my DMD bros have concluded is that if anything, our disability motivates us to make our time in this earth more worth it. Plus, it encourages us to want to get our goals done fast since we don’t know how much longer we got. This mentality applies to anyone though, we should all live our days to the very fullest. As far as finding a girl that wants to spend her days with some dying guy we know it can be complicated. However, it doesn’t mean we will stop trying to show girls that it can be worth to be with us even though we might not have as much time left. At least if we find a girl willing to be with us we know we have found our selves true love because only when you really love someone you won’t care about anything.

Overall, a lot of guys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy have defeated the expectations society has about us. Doctors didn’t thought most of us would live past 17. Yet, all my friends have passed that age already. Other people didn’t see us graduating and getting jobs. Yet, a few of my friends work at least part time. So, we are starting to not let our initial diagnosis define us, but rather we are giving different meanings to our diagnosis. Technology, medical advances, and our strong willed characters have came to our advantages. Yes, our lives are complicated in many ways. However, we can still manage to overcome all obstacles and live the most unlimited lives.

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Embracing a better perspective for those with disabilities

Our society is lacking of disability awareness. I’m lucky to be a part of the best school for individuals with disabilities in the nation. Yet, in our country and even some students at this school still aren’t aware of people with disabilities. Some students still don’t know how to behave around people with disabilities like me. It makes me upset that society has not taught them how to treat us properly. I can’t blame them, maybe they just aren’t aware or haven’t been expose to others with disabilities. Ignorance can be attributed to both society and the individuals in it.

The way I know about this ignorance is whenever I have gotten something for free just because I have disability. People see disabilities as something so negative that they feel like they should be extra nice to the individuals that have them. Also, I know of a bar in college where only those that have disabilities get in for free. Furthermore, one day a girl was dancing with me at the bar then she mentioned “I can’t believe you are at the bars! Who is taking care of you? I want you to make it back safe.” That girl was nice but she saw my disability so negative that it was hard for her to believe that I can have fun at bars too. I felt like she was ignorant at knowing how some disabilities work, which I can’t blame when our society doesn’t help that much. I like to think that I’m capable of taking care of myself and I don’t hide in a room. instead, I go around to try to achieve an independent life with all my resources available.

Part of the reason for this disability ignorance is that society has taught others the old medical view of disabilities. This view expresses the disability as something negative that can only be resolved if a cure to the disease is found. The truth is we need to focus on the interactional modern model for disabilities. This model encourages society to see disability as only a difference that derives from the interaction between the individual and society. Plus, the solution to this disability-related problems is change in this interaction. The way to change this interaction is affecting the individuals, an advocates or anyone who can change the arrangements between the individual and society. Yes, a cure would be the ideal solution but changing the arrangements of interaction between the individual and society is in our hands. We are not all doctors or researchers the only thing we can do is donate to research. However, changing the arrangements of interaction is a lot easier than waiting for a cure.

With that interactional model being explained here are many arrangements between the interaction of those with disabilities and society that have been put in place by the government in our nation:

-Every parking lot space for those with disabilities.
-Wheelchair accessible MTD buses that I use to transport at school.
-The amount of hours per week I get covered to pay for personal assistants.
-My cough assist machine and Bi-pap that allow me to keep my lungs strong.
-The power wheelchair that I use to transport everywhere.
-Home-based services.
-Note takers that help me at school since my hands get too tired of writing.
-Hospital services and/or surgeries.
-Extended time to take exams at school.

All of these arrangements have been able to change the interaction between me and society. Thanks to these arrangements and many more I have been able to attend college at the most accessible school in the world and live on my own like any other 22 year old. Yes, these arrangements have made my disability only a different life style rather than a negative situation.

However, some key arrangements that contribute to the success of those with disabilities may be changed now that a new government has taken over the White House. A few weeks ago, most of the representatives in our country voted for the AHCA. This representatives are threatening my life condition and the lives of all individuals that have disabilities similar to mine by cutting off the financial funds Medicaid gives to people with disabilities. Plus, Donald Trump’s budget that is expected to be unveiled on this Tuesday will include a $800 billion reduction in cuts to Medicaid, confirmed to CNN last Sunday evening by a senior administration official. This Medicaid reduction is assuming that the GOP health care bill that the House passed earlier this month would become law, that official said.

These news are both shocking and disappointing to me. I am who I am because of the help I have received to pay for my expensive power wheelchair, prescriptions, home-based services, cough assist machine, and bi-pap which have allowed me to live longer and have a more independent life. The government funds spend in Medicaid is what makes this country better than others in the disability sense. I’m truly disappointed at the people that have elected these representatives and I don’t see how voting for AHCA or the GOP health care bill can make our America great again. If anything it makes this country more unequal and ignorant. The lives of others with disabilities are worth to be supported and that’s the only message these representatives should be sending to our nation. I wouldn’t be able to graduate from a great school if it wasn’t for the arrangements that Medicaid has helped me pay for.

Therefore, everyone should stand together against this injustice. People with disabilities deserve the right to live and contribute to our society. Every life matters. Let’s stop this form of human genocide. For us with disabilities our mission is to show others the amazing things we are accomplishing through the arrangements given to us through Medicaid and other services. That way others will see our lives are worth living. Plus, in schools at a 12-K level teachers should teach students the transitional view of disabilities so they can support others with disabilities and their special arrangements they need to interact with society. Only then will we eliminate disability ignorance. Lastly, I want to say to all I am a pre-existing condition that is worth to live. Help me and others live life to our fullest potential.

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We all need each other.

Have you ever realized how everything is part of a perfect plan? Like a puzzle, nothing would be the same without one piece of it. At times, I have felt a strike in my head that tells me how every experience adds up together making me feel like every little thing has been worth it. God gives us other people to change us, to help us, pointing us in the right direction and make us who we are meant to be. In this blog, I’ll analyze the way it’s a blessing to have each other in this world and the idea that truly together we are stronger. Yes, Hilary Clinton wasn’t wrong in using that phrase for her campaign.

My wheels wouldn’t be rolling at UIUC if it was not for the people I have met throughout my life. My family, doctors, social workers, MDA camp, Stevie Hopkins, and my PA’s have guided me into the path towards a graduation. Yes, I have opened my eyes to focus myself to obtain an education like everyone else. However, I haven’t done it all by myself. This has happened thanks to the people God has thrown into my life. I used to think that it sucks to depend on others but I’ve realized the we all need of each other’s hands to get anywhere. No one can achieve anything without the help of the people around.

Paulo Coelho once said, “When you really want something the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it.”

Indeed, I believe the universe or God has helped me get to this point of my life. My family had the courage to bring me to Woodstock, Illinois without even knowing it was just a few hours away from UIUC the best school for those with disabilities. A social worker recommended me to attend the MDA camp which required me to get others besides my family to help me and that gave me confidence in myself. Stevie Hopkins co-founder of the symbol of acceptance encouraged me to get a degree despite having a disability when I still was caught up in the low expectation society has at times for those with disabilities. Then, doctors recommended me to check out UIUC because many of their patients had graduated from there. Lastly, the state has helped me hire personal assistants to get me up in the mornings and get to class. So yeah, I might be awesome for focusing on graduating and pursuing my goals. But, God has truly been more awesome in making all these things fall together for me to reach who I’m meant to be. The only thing I actually have done is open up my eyes and embrace opportunity when it has come my way.

Our country’s old President, Obama said in his farewell address, “We are all in this together either we raise up or we fall together.”

My whole family together has raised with me. They supported me by bringing me here but they have also been able to succeed. My sister is almost a dentist and my brother works for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They fell with me sacrificing the comfortable life we had back in Mexico but God has raised us up making everything seem worth giving up. At an institutional level as everyone keeps supporting those with disabilities society benefits from our talents and what we can provide for others through various professional fields. For me, I would love to end up providing emotional support and resources to address the needs of those who are struggling like I did at one point too.

Overall, the point I’m making in the blog is that we should all help each other reach whatever our heart desires no matter the circumstances. As long as people aren’t being hurt of course. The more people supporting one another the better for everyone as a greater whole. Let’s all not just focus in achieving our own happiness but helping others get there is important to add meaning into our lives. By helping others, and when I say others I mean everyone around us.. This includes illegal and legal immigrants, low income individuals, the gay community, African Americans, Caucasians, people with disabilities, refugees etc. In the end if they rise our country will rise with them too. At a personal level, I know firsthand the power of helping others because I’m here alive at UIUC thanks to the kind hearts of others. Therefore, I want to be that kind and helpful heart for someone else. As a social worker in the future, I’ll give a hand to others with disabilities and able-bodied that want to reach their full potential and happiness. I know what is like to feel like your dreams won’t come true just simply because of who you are.

Yet, today I’m here to tell the world that dreams become a reality when you believe in God, yourself and in the kind giving hands of others. At least for my case my wheels are half way towards reaching one of my biggest goals of a higher education.

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A beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

We all are one. There is no difference between you or me. I have felt unconditional acceptance in the air between a diverse group of human beings and we all are the same just people trying to have fun in a world of adversity and challenges.

Martin Luther King once said, “We will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

Unfortunately, our society tends to divide instead of unifying and supporting each other without trying to take advantage for our own good. On an unexpected day I got to experience unconditional love and that beautiful symphony of brotherhood MLK preached about. Indeed, it was beautiful unity between human beings feels good at the heart. Through this blog, I’ll share an experience of unity, brotherhood, unconditional love and friends that were drunk in love but more in love than anything else. Also, I’ll encourage others to love one another like brother and sister.

Acceptance of self and others with arms wide open no questions asked is what defines unconditional love. The biggest example of this kind of love is Jesus Christ and I’m trying to follow his great example. He loved the world so much that he died for it. But, God accepted each and every one of us for who we are. He didn’t care about gender, race, ethnicity, condition, nor wealth. To him we were all equal and he loves each of us equally. We are all connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, “God”. The connection to God and all of us should be grounded in love and acceptance. Researchers have shown that the people that live by this principle are more able to overcome the adversities of life and enjoy life to the fullest.

At the age of sixteen the symbol of acceptance in the form of a wheelchair heart logo came into my life at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp. I love that symbol and throughout my blogs I always write about it. When I met this symbol it changed the course of my life forever. One of the creators of the symbol Stevie Hopkins has a type of muscular dystrophy like myself. He shared with me the story of his sister that had pass away due to her disease but she left a legacy in the form of a symbol of acceptance towards ourselves and others. It originally was made for a shirt at the dorm I currently live in at UIUC which it’s the school Stevie and his sister graduated from. Through his story I became more motivated to love myself for who I am even more, love life no matter what and to pursue my goal of obtaining an education. Since nothing stopped Stevie nor his sister, nothing was going to stop me from equality and obtaining an education like everyone else.

Today the international day of acceptance is celebrated as I’m currently living and rolling through life at UIUC where this symbol was born. I’m going there because it has the best program for those with disabilities in the nation. Another reason is the powerful symbol that encourages the same acceptance that God is all about was created there. At my dorm there are 26 residents and many friends in the form of students and personal assistants that merge into a community. We create events, we support each other, and we do all sorts of fun things. Every year there is a tradition of a bar crawl that contains five bars where current residents, past residents, personal assistants, family and friends wear the same shirt.

That night of that bar crawl was more powerful than many experiences regarding acceptance I have experienced. Almost, as powerful as the day I met the symbol of acceptance for the first time. The shirt said, “Drunk in Love” and it had the wheelchair heart symbol on the O. About 80 people bought the shirt and attended that bar crawl. This bar crawl is more diverse than the usual bar crawls. There were parents of some residents, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, latinos, americans, europeans, asians, afro-americans, and people with disabilities.

All of those different groups of people with different backgrounds, challenges and adversities were all in one spot of the world unified by the same cause. With no single judgements everyone was accepted and people took pictures with strangers as if they were brothers or sisters. That’s the beautiful symphony of brotherhood MLK advocated years ago. That night it felt like I truly was living by the meaning of the symbol of acceptance. Embracing life to the fullest and seeing anybody around me as equal. I definitely celebrated life as I got to spin my wheels around, dance to the beats, and laugh the crap out of life with all the different kinds of people that literally make up this world.

To close up, in the bible in 1 John 4:20 it says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

To this bar crawl everyone was welcomed and we all invited anybody we knew. Even people that don’t normally go out where present and everyone received them so excited with arms wide open. In not just bar crawls but in anything in life we should include and accept everyone no matter what especially if we claim to love God. Only then we will be able to transform the discords of society and turn them into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we welcome everyone equally into anything our society will be able to grow together by learning from each other’s diversities, cultures, and experiences. By doing so, it will help out others find their spot in the world. There will always be challenges and adversities in the world but we won’t let them define us if we face them together supporting each other like equal brothers and sisters.

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-People with disabilities are neither less nor heroes, only humans-

Every day I get myself out there to fight for fair equality. As someone with a disability I don’t like when others treat me differently because I’m a human and at the heart we are all the same. God blessed us all with a pumping heart that has similar emotions and desires. Therefore, when somebody doesn’t get the same treatment it threatens others image right away. For several decades women, Afro-Americans, people with disabilities, poor disadvantage people and among other groups of people have fought to feel equal in all aspects of life. Just like those groups of individuals have fought to break down the barriers of inequality, I am and others are fighting every day through their lives to feel more equal.

Equity is justice in the way others are treated and often times the line of equity gets crossed when we give too much to others that we consider less in the desperate attempt to establish equality. Aristotle, a Greek wise philosopher once said equality should be achieved in relevant ways. This means that we should all focus on achieving equality through justify means and not irrelevant ways in which we help too much in a way that makes it come across as discrimination. Although, extra help is better than no help at all, but still it should be the enough amount.

I have noticed various special treatments in the bars environment. On Facebook I saw a quote that said “kids, drunk people and leggings always speak the truth.” I somewhat do believe that drunk people reflect the way society thinks. All the time random guys and girls buy me drinks as if I was some hot girl because I’m in a wheelchair. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I don’t enjoy free drinks, but I’m sure that if I wasn’t in a wheelchair no one would offer to buy me a drink. If I stick to my point, this is an example of inequality. Although, I must admit that I enjoy getting free drinks.

Weeks ago a guy gave me a sense of the low expectation society still has of those individuals with disabilities. I went with some friends to Joe’s bar on a typical college weekend night where the average student goes out to get some drinks plus rave the crap out of life.

This guy approached me and he said, “I want to buy you a drink man, your awesome! I’m literally so happy that you are out here at the bars.”

Seems like that guy assumed that people with disabilities are always locked in a room. I don’t want to judge him, but I feel that people need to be more aware that we are just like any other young people that want to have a good time too. People like that guy that aren’t familiar with people that have disabilities, find everything that others with disabilities do inspiring because of this sad expectation of us being in a room and not doing anything. I want to make clear that I wasn’t pissed with this guy because he was awesome and I appreciated his kindness. It just made me thought about all of this.

At this other bar that I regularly tend to go, the bouncers always let me in for free and my friends since I’m in a wheelchair. Although that is awesome, I honestly think that this type of treatment is unnecessary. Lately, they only let me in for free and not my friends and I actually like that better because now I know that my friends go with me not just to get in for free, making me feel more like a regular college student.

The right decision for me to do here is to create a change by writing or educating others through my daily life. Every day that I roll through campus at UIUC before going to class by myself, I have my personal assistant put my headphones and shades on me. Later in class, I have to ask random people to help me take those items on and off. I feel at times like I might be annoying others. However, when someone helps me I say “I’m sorry I really appreciate this!” After all, I don’t wear this items only for the swag I do it to encourage a more aware and helpful community one day at a time and also it helps me meet new people.

This goes to those that see every little thing people with disabilities do inspiring, we as people with disabilities, do everything even if it takes the help of others or a different approach to achieve it. That’s what I try to show the random people I ask for a hand. If I want to wear shades like anyone else, I do it even if I need to ask strangers for help. To be honest, we all should help anyone when they needed it. Not only people with disabilities but everyone!

Telling someone that they are awesome for completing the average tasks or being super kind might make some people feel nice. But, sometimes to the disability community it makes us feel as more or a lot less than the rest. I feel that many aspects about disabilities are mainly created by the society rather than the condition itself. Portraying disable individuals as less has made some of these individuals feel more disable when at times they could be more successful than some able-bodied individuals. Not because people with disabilities look different means anything.

According to Dr. Gibson, “Disability can be seen as part of the diverse human continuum of abilities. Some people may be more disabled than others, but often much of this can be attributed to the barriers built into society.”

Therefore, we got to focus on breaking these barriers by not looking at these individuals as heroes or less worth. Those like Martin Luther King that contributed learning into others are heroes, not those just living ordinary lives with a disability. Anyone that decides to influence the lives of others in a way can be a hero, there is no need of a cape or a disability to be one.

As far as my life goes, I have decided to dedicate my life to break down the barriers of inequality by defeating the low expectations of the disable community by achieving a higher education and all my goals like any able-bodied individual. Plus, through social work and my writing I want to encourage a more fairly equal, diverse and loving world like God meant it to be. If along my way I get to influence anyone, I don’t want to do it because I have a disability but because I have developed a passion to do the most positive out of my life.

Overall, let’s all help each other in our society in relevant ways so we can all find our own way of doing anything we desire as equal humans. Helping one another and trying to erase low expectations by proving society wrong with our life examples, are some ways to slowly destroy any kinds of class, racial, ethical, gender and disability inequalities we have built into society.

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