Monday, June 24, 2013

Famous Amos

It seems that few people with disabilities here have platforms for creativity or other outlets.  Our vision for people with disabilities should include opportunities for them to participate in all sorts of extracurricular activities so they can develop independence, confidence, and fitness.  There is no adaptive PE here, no special education classes, few avenues for socialization.  It just seems an odd paradox that a society, which can now speak openly and unabashedly about topics that were once taboo such as HIV and Teenage Pregnancy, still remains largely silent when it comes to mental illness.  I've witnessed on several occasions, kids in school having full blown panic attacks, and staff just walking by them.  Granted, few but the guidance department are trained for this, but there is a word called "supportive."

Anyway, a few weekends ago, an all weekend sporting and activity event was held for kids with mental, physical, and intellectual disabilities, kind of like a special olympics.  Competitions, beauty contests, races were all held, along with the opportunity for these kids to socialize. It really was a special weekend for all who attended.  Three kids in my school placed to go on to the next round and get the chance to see yet another village.  But there is one boy, Amos, whom I have spent so much time with, mostly trying to redirect him, but he was one of these boys who placed first in racing.  Amos has a pretty serious psychological disorder, is failing in school, and is quite a character, but he exudes happiness and simplicity at it's best.  You should have heard the howls for him when he was introduced for winning at the school assembly last week.  I didn't think the kid would ever stop smiling, and I didn't think the other kids would ever stop applauding.  For this one week, Amos was even more famous and everyone's hero!

There may not be the trained manpower to help these kids with special needs, but at least this was a good venue to deconstruct and eliminate some of the stigma of mental illness.  And for Famous Amos, I think he's my hero too!

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