#BlogBoutDat, blind, challenges, deaf, Disability, education and employment for the disabled, expression, hearing impaired, heroes, Jamaica Blog Awards, job, Mary Verdi Fletcher, opportunity, physically challenged
My life is like expressing in a prism…In prison!
Full of vibrancy and colour, but I’m forced to repress, to suppress this iridescence, as it could lead to the extinction of my very presence.
The seven brilliant colours are forced to be reduced to what they called a shade- White!
But in this prism, this prison, these glass walls in this differently shaped triangle could not have contained me if I had one thing- Light!
In this prison is darkness and out there in my sun lit society is darkness, it seems the rays have somewhat damaged their eyes, because they are unable to see this greatness in disguise.
Give me light so I can show you…
It’s early September. The light winds rustle the fallen leaves under the apple tree. The morning is cool and peals of laughter can be heard coming from the house next door. Miss Marie is stringing out all the ‘cloths’ she can think of this morning, I think Ping’s Fabrics may just run out, once more Jes cannot find her socks and it is almost time to leave. The smell of spray starch and hearty breakfasts fill the air, while the smell of hot chocolate with the oil on top brings hope to bellies with plenty gas in there. Dear gosh, lunch money sorted but once again, Mass John will be owed his taxi fare. Sharply pleated uniforms, the smell of shoes polish, big plaits, full bellies and foreheads shine with hair oil seems to be the order of this regular school morning, but sadly, this is far from it.
In the same community little Shanique sits in her wheelchair, she talks to her siblings as they get dressed and wish that she could experience that place for once. In rural Jamaica, there is no JUTC bus specially equipped to transport her, Miss Daisy cannot afford the extra fare and no schools around here will take her. Jermaine is smart and even the blind can see that, so his mother sent him to town to go to school. Jade sees mouths moving, she cannot hear the world around her, but she loves to dance and moves to her own rhythm. Mass Johnny just told Frieda that it’s no use sending “Dummy” to high school, as that is the accepted nickname for their daughter who cannot speak. He claims she will never be hired. If only they could see these radiant colours exuded by other people they’d doubt.
Red is the colour of infuriated, impatient people as he struggles to produce a sentence or when walking to class with his walker obstruct their paths. Red is the colour of the flag waved by society for his daily activities to take place. It’s dangerous, as the heavy doors to be pulled to even enter a class can be difficult, the lack of grab bars in public bathrooms make it unsafe and the tiny cubicles most times cannot hold the walker. The steep grades or stone paved walkways make it difficult to navigate the narrow sidewalks. But RED is the colour of passion that Kemar has for language, even though his speech is not very coherent. In his brain, words seem to magically align themselves into brilliant prose like musical notes at the hands of Hans Zimmer. Cerebral Palsy has nothing on him, he is a victor! His analytic skills are wonderful and enables him to very well in literature. In Beginner’s French he got an A, as red was the colour of the blood, sweat and tears he put into his craft. He was given an chance by his parents, schools were available for him to attend in urban Jamaica and because he was given an opportunity, he can make a change. He could give notes on literature, summaries, tips for exam, be an assistant French, Literature or language teacher. He can proofread, he can edit, he can write scripts, speeches- for even the Prime Minister if given the chance, he can blog, write reviews and guess what? All of those are real jobs. He’s got the skill and talent, he is Kemar Cummings who hold a Fist Class Honors Degree from The University of the West Indies, so he should be given a chance.
Jacob Barnett is a perfect representation of the colour orange. Orange represents creativity, blessings , determination, success and stimulation. After being diagnosed with Autism, he started to regress and his parents were devastated. They carefully observed him and realize he would engage, once it was something in which he was interested. Baby sitters were hard to find, so his mother took him to her college classes, where she did Physics and Mathematics. To her astonishment he was answering the questions and seemed to understand it all, which he actually did! He has great memory and savant skills and is known as one of the youngest geniuses of all time. At 14, he is enrolled in University and doing his paper on astrophysics. Jake gives hope to other Autistic persons and even to others that doubt the abilities of persons with disabilities.
How can one dance if the lower half of the body is paralyzed Can elegant and graceful moves be done in the confines of a wheelchair? Mary Verdi Fletcher answers it all. She represents yellow- energy and happiness, despite the hate and negativity present in society. Spina bifida was not enough to contain her love for music and dance, which she got from her parents. They facilitated her dancing in her wheelchair and resulted in her being the first professional wheelchair dancer in the United States. She now runs an international school where she allows others like herself to fulfill their dreams through wheelchair dancing. She has proven that we can excel despite the odds. She is an entrepreneur an educator and an artist, who is excellent at her craft.
Green represents growth, harmony and safety. John also grew up in rural Jamaica and from an early age, the alphabet and counting the little stoppers in Basic School, seemed to be daunting tasks. He was punished, not fed as a form of punishment and the little belt was a common visitor to his body. He was called “Dunce Bat” by his peers and got low scores on GSAT. The community people told his mother to stop sending him to school and send him to learn a trade, but she had hope. She got him tested and realized he had a Learning Disability. This didn’t mean he could not lean, he just could not learn as much in the traditional classroom. He was sent to a school where he learned to read and then sent to do a trade. He is welding, and doing very good at it. He hopes to Start Heart Trust NTA soon, so he can be certified. His mother is unemployed and he is the breadwinner for the family. It sometimes happen that the stone the builder refuses ends up being the head cornerstone.
Blue was the colour of his uniform. Jamaica College made a quality secondary education accessible to him. Blue is the colour of trust, loyalty and confidence. One must be trusting and confident to be hitting balls they cannot see and does so well. For every young athlete, representing one’s country at an international level is the dream and he has done it. He plays dominoes for his community as well, feeling the plays in his hand and does well. He is pursing a Masters at the University of the West Indies and hopes to make a mark in his field. He may not be able to see but he doesn’t lack vision. His mentor is also blind and he works as a Guidance Counselor and motivates him to continue in this path.
For those of us who love sports or even the “wagonists”, watching the 2012 Olympics was on the to do list. The opening ceremony was spectacular but deeply interpretive. For those of us who are not so appreciative of the arts, we remember the sounds of the drums- we remember Evelyn Glennie. Even though hearing impaired, she chose to follow her passion- music. She plays numerous instruments but is renowned as a percussionist, which landed her the role of lead percussionist at the Olympics. It is simply amazing how someone who cannot hear music, can produce it so beautifully. Indigo usually represents doubt, which a lot of persons probably had when they first met Evelyn. She allows us to realize that giving our doubts a chance can result in something beautiful.
Achondroplasia is what doctors like himself call his condition. Dr. Michael Ain is a surgeon at the famous John Hopkins Medical Centre and works primarily with children. After having his applications denied by many Medical Schools, he did not give up. Some persons refer to him as a “Little person” as a ‘Dwarf’ and it seems that even the Medical schools thought his ability was dependent on height or on how people would view him. He was given a chance and is one of the world’s better doctors. This colour usually evokes frustration, but Dr. Ain used this frustration that he felt, to motivate him and the many others who are just like us, but just happen to be a bit shorter.
Now, just allow the light to pass through the prism and divide the white. The white which stands for purity, equality, goodness and innocence. This white divides into seven beautiful colours- true iridescence. As some will call it, the colours of the rainbow, they are now equally given a chance and stand out- bold. Maybe if we did allow this rainbow to shine a little longer, the society would find it’s pot of gold.