Tag Archives: PWD Profiles

Tyler Schwab: the immobile fighter

Throughout his life, he’s been using a wheelchair to move around.

But Tyler Schwab has also always been strong. He had since been a part of a close-knit group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Horizon Middle School.

Tyler was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was young. He has to be in a wheelchair to speak and do his coursework. The wheelchair has two buttons, which he can press using the side of his head. Connected to an iPad, these buttons could be programmed to be any key on the keyboard. Tyler can just navigate the programs through auditory scanning.

As of now, Tyler is studying journalism. And one of the issues he has taken on is about the disrespect to people with disabilities (PWDs). He started the “Spread the Word, End the Word,” a campaign that focuses on respect in dealing with PWDs, which eventually became an annual day—every first Wednesday of March—to increase awareness about the R-word*.

“I talked about the R-word being negative, disrespectful and hurtful. We should stop using the word altogether,” Tyler was reported saying during his presentation on the proper etiquette in writing and speaking about people with disabilities.

“I felt it was important for them to know how I feel about using the R-Word as well as how other people with disabilities feel about the use of the R-Word. “Journalism students should be aware that they should never use the R-Word in their writing or day-to-day life.”

“People with disabilities are people first, and their disability comes second.” ~Tyler Schwab

 *R-word refers to “retarded.”

Photo from the Bismarck Schools and is not for reuse. Please do not repost without expressed permission.

Kaltham Obaid Bakheet: the infirmed filmmaker

Having had a car accident while driving back from Dibba, Oman in 1990, Kaltham Obaid Bakheet has made a video about the rehabilitation programmes offered in the United Arab Emirates that has helped her become a government employee for the Ministry of Health today.

The accident has been ‘a turning point in her life’ and it had made Bakheet realize the ‘long journey’ ahead of her. The short film also highlighted the importance of education and family values in society development as well as in how the road to success begins with one’s inner faith.

Recently, Bakheet has founded the Handicapped Guardians Association in Sharjah as well as the Association of Empowering Women with Disabilities in the UAE. She is also first deputy chairman of Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped, a city government office in Sharjah.

“No matter what the circumstances are, the journey to success starts with self-belief that I can accomplish any task. In spite of the ordeal I went through I still have a lot to do. I studied hard and accomplished a lot.” ~ Kaltham Obaid Bakheet

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the UAE Gov

Photo courtesy of the Khaleej Times

Ashish Goyal: the blind trader on Wall Street

How could a visually challenged guy trade on Wall Street?

Ask Ashish Goyal. He was the one diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he turned 9. He was the one used to swim, cycle, ride horses and shoot when “balls started disappearing from his field of vision, the lines in his text books began blurring and he was tripping over things and walking into people.” He was the one who entered college with 15 friends and left with 5.

“It’s only one sense you’ve lost. Don’t look at this as a problem and sit with it. Find a solution,” his mentor and spiritual guide Balaji Tambe told him when Goyal had asked “Why me?” So Goyal worked with the ING Vysya, a privately owned Indian multinational bank based in Bangalore that has merged with the Kotak Mahindra Bank last April 1, 2015 (the combined entity will bear the name Kotak Mahindra Bank); finished his studies at the Wharton Business School, Philadelphia; and became a trader of the JPMorgan Chase & Co.

An “eternal optimist”, as he describes himself, Goyal was honored with the National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities by no less than President Pratibha Patil of India last December 3, 2010. He was also a recipient of the Joseph P. Wharton Award, an annual recognition to a student who symbolizes “Wharton’s way of life”.

Since he had come to believe that “a little bit of help can make a big difference,” Goyal has raised more than $50,000 over the past three years to help the underprivileged Indian children study, and the global disability research and international peace continue its mission.

To date, Goyal is a portfolio manager with the BlueCrest Capital Management Ltd., a leading macro hedge fund. The 34-year-old tennis star wanna-be still enjoys “watching sports, staying abreast of public policy and keeping an eye on human rights violations.” Goyal is also already married to a girl, “who saw him as just a regular guy with his own set of challenges”.

“The challenges are to realize where I can add value and where I don’t. You need to find your niche.” ~Ashish Goyal

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Ankit Jain

Pete Frates: the challenger

A year has passed since Pete Frates was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). But never mind that fact. For a year has passed, too, since Frates posted a video of himself being doused with ice water while sitting on a wheelchair. He dared anyone right after that to do the same thing or donate $100 to the ALS Association. From his challenge, ‘a large amount of awareness and money’ was raised that researchers were able to work on a ‘new hope on the horizon.’ As of August 28, 2014, Frates would use a ventilator just to breathe. He would eat through a feeding tube to swallow and would use an online virtual keyboard to type. He had vowed to “fight harder and harder” for his wife Julie, who was pregnant at the time of that writing.

“If you are lucky enough to know Pete, then you already understand what a special person he is. His warmth, generosity and infectious smile are just a few of the things that make Pete so special.” ~ The Frates Family

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of davidcloydomcastable

John, Jansen, and Hannah Mae: Typhoon Survivors

John is a 15-year old boy. His hands are deformed and, because of the spasms, he cannot hold anything in them.

Jansen is five. He spent most of his days lying in bed because it is difficult for him to sit upright.

Hannah Mae is 11. She weighs nine kilos and lives in a two-room house with a thin sheet of metal as roof.

They are just three of the children who have battled the typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) on this day last year. What sets them apart, though, is that they did so amidst their debilitating physical condition: cerebral palsy.

John has lost his house, which is nearby a beach in Tacloban. Along with it is his family’s income that had been necessary for his medical care.

Jansen was placed at the door of their fridge together with his two brothers as waters rushed into their home. His mother had to hold onto it while clinging onto the wall of an outhouse. Eventually, the waters subsided, leaving Jansen greatly traumatized.

Hannah Mae, on the other hand, was faced with the stress of the disaster helplessly. She wasn’t able to move around even as winds smashed through their windows and ripped of their sheet metal roofs.

It is really necessary for the Philippines to work on its disaster risk reduction for people with disabilities (PWDs) now. It is lying astride the typhoon belt, in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and in between the Pacific and Eurasian tectonic plates. Not doing so can worsen the plight of the estimated 10 million PWDs in that country who, as a conference on disaster risk reduction in Cagayan De Oro two years ago concluded, “…are more vulnerable to disasters than others.”

“Decisions and policies to reduce disaster risks must reflect the needs of persons living with disabilities.” ~United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the GMA News and Public Affairs

Photos by Maud Bellon & Molly Feltner of Handicap International

Of Young Voices

Proving their abilities beyond their physical incapacities are Angelique Vizorro, Brian Semeniego, Carla dela Cruz, and Daisy Panaligan. They are all members of the Young Voices, a global project of a United Kingdom-based health and welfare group that aims to fight work against poverty and social marginalization through film and music.1

Vizorro has been a part of the National Youth Commission (NYC) Government Internship Program that trained high school and college students alike for employment. She had graduated from STI College-Fairview and knew how to encode data, photocopy, scan, and file documents.

Semeniego has headed the YV-Iloilo Chapter and has represented the country in the workshop conducted by the he Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) in Colombo, Sri Lanka last August 2010, and in the National Human Rights Forum led by the Presidential Human Rights Committee in April of the same year. He has hosted the radio program K-Forum before he became the youngest board member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-PINOY). To date, Semeniego intends to promote better accessibility for PWDs through his civil engineering degree.

Dela Cruz has undeveloped lower limbs. Despite of that, though, she was the one sent to Maryland, USA to study one high school year in 2004. She was the one sent to Ethiopia, Africa to attend a video filming workshop and she was the one of those awarded the Women Achiever of the Year last March 25, 2011. She is a cum laude of BS Education, major in Special Education, from the Trinity University of Asia.

Panaligan is an amputee since birth. She is a ballroom dancer as well, albeit on wheels. She is also an athlete and had won two gold medals and one silver medal in the 6th Asean Paragames in Solo, Indonesia.

1 Worldwide, there are 1200 PWD members of YV to date. They are from 21 countries and ages 16-25 years old. In the Philippines, YV is one of the core programs idealized by the LCD Foundation, involved as it was during the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Video courtesy of the LCD Young Voices

Isidro Vildosola: the one-armed runner

Isidro Vildosola was 14 when he had rescued his cousin who got stuck in a rice thresher. He was able to do so but without his right arm in pain. It was amputated the very next day without anesthesia because there was none available in any hospital in Koronadal City.

But that didn’t stop Coach Sid to literally run his life. He won silver during the 2011 Paralympic Games in Australia in the 5,000-meter run and 1,500-meter run; and another during the 2010 Paralympic Games in China in the 1,500-meter run.

He also won bronze during the 2009 Paralympic Games in Malaysia, gold during the 2007 Paralympic Games in Thailand, and gold during the 2005 Paralympic Games in Manila. These are all in the 800-meter run.

In the 1,500-meter run, Coach Sid had two golds during the 2007 Paralympic Games in Thailand and the 2005 Paralympic Games in Manila. He also won bronze during the 2007 Fespic Games in Malaysia.

As of September 11, 2011, Coach Sid is ‘looking forward’ for the London Paralympics. He had to qualify, first, however, with the Frankfurt Marathon in Germany.

“Huwag silang magtago, mahiya o matakot na kantiyawan o kutyain. I challenge them to show their talents and be discovered. I know that there are a lot more in provinces. Share it to the community and don’t lose hope.” ~Coach Sid in an interview with Vincent Go

  Photo by Mario Ignacio IV for Vera Files