The Girl Behind the Wheelchair

by Jocelene Ramnanan, age 13
The Girl Behind the Wheelchair

“But as I got older I realized that that dream was never going to become a reality due to my disability. Coming to terms with that fact was a very hard thing for my then 8-year-old self, but I persevered and I made it through that hurdle.”

When I was younger, I dreamed about playing on my school’s basketball team. I longed for, the day where I could score my first goal. I wanted the feeling of adrenaline rushing through my body as I made the winning goal. I wanted to hear the voices of my teammates cheering me on! Back then, I admired that the players on that team could just let go and just play basketball. They did not need to worry about their circumstances in that moment but they were able to… just let go. I vividly imagine myself playing on the court, I hear the crowd cheering me on, “Josie! Josie! Josie!” I can still see the sweat beading through my body as I throw the winning shot the crowd goes wild! But as I got older I realized that that dream was never going to become a reality due to my disability. Coming to terms with that fact was a very hard thing for my then 8-year-old self, but I persevered and I made it through that hurdle.

I was born with a disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as OI. In short my disability makes my bones weaker which causes them to break easily. About a year ago I went to the mall with my mom and when I was in JcPenney and a young girl came up to me I believe that she was around the age of 6 or 7. She asked me a question that left me absolutely speechless. She had asked, “how old are you?” I answered with, “I am 12 years old.” Her response made me so enraged. She said, “but if your 12 why are you so small?” It was In that very moment that I felt so angry that she could not see past my wheelchair. I am not expecting people to be perfect I just want and need them to be considerate.

I write to make sure my voice is heard loudly. It should echo as loud as a megaphone in a crowd filled with people. Malala Yousafzai once said, “We were scared but our fear was not as strong as our courage.” Everyday I implement courage by trying my best to face the day to the best of my ability. This quote shows that even if we are scared, in the moment our courage can outweigh our fear.

I felt sadness rush through my body. I had just been rejected. My mom told me that she would never even consider letting me play basketball. “I am so sorry I know this is your dream but it’s just too risky,” Mom said as I started to cry. In that moment, I felt as though my heart was ripped out of my chest. I felt like she was telling me one my best friends had just passed away. She had just unleashed my greatest fear, which had been the fear of not even getting the opportunity to try. I was not mad at her because I understood where she was coming from, she just did not want her beautiful daughter who has the bones of glass to shatter into pieces. But it was really just the fact that I would never, get to experience my dream in that moment was hard for me to emotionally handle.

As I typed away on my computer I felt adrenaline rush through my body. I was writing a speech called When I Roll by, which was basically piece about hope and rising above your disabilities or even your challenges. I wrote that not only to encourage the reader to rise above their own personal struggles, but to encourage myself to not to dwell in my inability to do basketball but to rise up and make the best of my abilities. So as I type away again on my computer, I reiterate that very same message to you and I urge you to not view your differences as different but view them as uniquely different.

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