People With Disabilities Need the Freedom to Explore Their Interests
Children typically grow up with many opportunities to participate in a variety of activities. After exploring options, they choose the ones they enjoy most. They might choose sports, or they could opt to participate in art, music, or video gaming. If passionate, they might stretch these interests into adulthood.
It’s just as important that disabled kids and adults have opportunities to pursue hobbies that appeal to us. Sometimes society forgets we have unique interests beyond disability-related activities, or assumes we should always partake in every disability-related offering. The truth is we should have the freedom to try other options available to us, too.
For example, I am frequently asked whether I play the popular wheelchair sport called power soccer, or if I want to play it. I’m usually met with a surprised expression when I say, “No, I don’t play.”
Many people have tried to convince me to give it a shot, and I could easily do so if I chose to. I’m a big fan of my local team, the Furious Flyers, which is conveniently located at the nonprofit organization Turnstone, where I am both a client and a volunteer.
I love how enthusiastic the players are about the sport, but it’s just not my thing — and that’s OK. I’m far more comfortable sitting on the sidelines waving a pair of pompoms in support of the team than I am flying across the court and occasionally crashing into other wheelchairs.
Once upon a time, Turnstone created a Flyers cheer squad at my insistent urging. Trying to move the pompoms even just a little always made my arms feel like lead by the end of a game, and shouting made my voice tired. But I was always full of spirit! Unfortunately, there weren’t enough people interested to keep the squad going for long, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted.
I’ll never hesitate to cheer on my friends and their teams as they compete to win power soccer championships around the globe. But I’m grateful that I have always been encouraged to explore my own interests and passions, even if it’s not what everyone else is doing.
In addition to my cheerleading adventure, I also spent my childhood doing things like hippotherapy (horseback riding), attending book clubs, and learning sign language and Spanish. As an adult, I’ve also picked up cooking, pursued philanthropy, become a writer, and enjoyed Bible studies.
None of these things are “better” than power soccer — they’re just different. And I never would have known that I love doing them if I hadn’t been given opportunities and the freedom to decide what I wanted to do.
What opportunities and interests have you chosen to pursue? Please share them with us in the comments below!
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.