This January, I got a motorised wheelchair as a gift from an old friend. I was very enthusiastic about getting a ‘car’ of my own. I convinced my parents to allow me to have this opportunity because I knew that this powered wheelchair had the strength to change my life.
At first, all my friends and family were determined that I shouldn’t get a powered wheelchair. They thought that I would stop walking altogether. I have cerebral palsy, which affects a part of the brain that controls bodily movements. Due to this, I have multiple disabilities, such as speech impairment and difficulties in walking and self-care.
It was difficult at first to make people understand the benefits of using a powered wheelchair. People of my society are like family to me. When I stepped out alone with my powered wheelchair for the first time, people reacted in an encouraging but caring manner. They would often ask me where my mother was, and I would say that I was out there alone! I was determined to create an independent identity for myself in the hearts of my loved ones. I knew that if I made a mark on their minds about my independence, I would be able to convince my father to let me travel alone.
Every evening, when I would go for a stroll around my apartment, I would find children looking at me in amazement. My motorised wheelchair, with me on it, must have looked like a UFO to the little children in my society. I would often be asked by some baby or his mother, “what is this?” I believe people are just curious about you and your disability. I don’t see anything extraordinary about that.
It has almost been 4 months since I started using the motorised wheelchair. I can see a significant change in people’s attitudes. Now I have my own group of friends in the society. I can laugh with them, talk with them, and share precious moments with them. They don’t have to sit beside me to talk – I can walk with them instead.
If I can change the attitude of the people in my society about disability, then I have the power to change the world.