More MS news articles for Aug 2001

Common Heroes Always Help The Handicapped

August 27, 2001
Christine Romano
Christine Romano was a senior at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens.

Many disabled people, already striving to live with a handicap, are forced to face yet another handicap: prejudice.

My mom lives with multiple sclerosis. Since I was born, she has struggled with this progressively debilitating condition. She now needs a wheelchair to do anything. It is the presence of this wheelchair that causes the stares, the hurtful remarks and the isolation. Not all people respond in this way. Some people treat my mother, and others like her, with the kind of respect, dignity and care we all deserve as human beings.

Yet, there are far too many people who would rather not be bothered to treat her and others who are physically challenged with respect.

For example, when mother goes to the manicurist, she does not receive the response that any normal person would. On a few occasions the store has been empty, yet the workers have told her she couldn't come because they are "too busy." It seemed like that they would rather not be bothered with her handicap, and so they turn her away.

Another example is taking a cab. My mother cannot drive and neither can her nurse, so they rely on cabs. On a number of occasions, after informing the cab service of my mother's handicap, the company has refused them service. How do you think she felt after that? How would you feel if that were you?

Such prejudices and mistreatment toward the handicapped will not end overnight. It is a lot of work. For me, education is the answer. To teach people at a young age that those in wheelchairs or those who look different are still people with a heart and a brain is definitely an answer to ignorance.

A world that pushes people away because they are handicapped is certainly in trouble. But if someone has the strength to try to change things for the long term, they will not only accomplish great things, they will become heroes as well.

Copyright © 2001, Newsday, Inc.