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Student With Cerebral Palsy Has Perfect Response to Those Who Pity Her

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When Tiffany Kontoyiannis asked Sarah Kim if she wanted to be the subject of her film project, Kim was happy to oblige. Kontoyiannis and Kim both attend the Columbia-affiliated Barnard College, and in the five-minute video, titled, “A Day On My Wheels,” the two young women give viewers an intimate look at Kim’s life with cerebral palsy.

The video is set to a voiceover of Kim’s letter to the rest of world, and she starts by addressing the individuals who stare, ridicule and ignore her. “I am writing this letter to you not because I’m mad at you, but because I want to rescue you from your ignorance,” she says. “I want you to know what a day on my wheels is like, and perhaps to have you appreciate a day on your feet.”

“Do you know how it feels like to be imprisoned in your own body?” she asks the people who judge and disregard her. “My mind goes 10 times faster than my body does,” she continues. “In my head, I speak perfectly, but what comes out of my mouth is a shock to both me and you.”

After fantasizing that her disability would go away as a kid, Kim realized she had to face reality, but she’s done so head-on. Now, she wants the world to know she’s more than just a “girl in a wheelchair.” She continues:

My vision is blurred by darkness, thick fog and foliage. I see only the faintest light taunting me, glittering in the horizon, yet I am eager to ascend onto the bright pathway ahead despite the obstacles. I had people who severely underestimated me, told me I do not belong. But I believe that what does not kill me makes me stronger. I let those hurtful words that kids said to me fuel me with hope. I marched forward with the light shining vibrantly and the path, becoming more visible. Trying twice as hard for success, I remained humbled by the miracles occurring in front of my eyes and grateful for the strength I’ve developed.

You may feel sorry for me, you may feel pity, but the irony is, I at times pity you… Yes, it may take me longer to eat, to write, to speak, but I have something you don’t. I am quicker to smile at a sunny day. I am better at not looking at the small inconveniences life gives me…. I am grateful to be alive. You see, I refuse to believe that my obstacles define me. Instead, I believe that these wheels will drive me towards all my dreams. I learned that the only limitations we have are the ones we put on ourselves. I may be disabled, but I most certainly am not unable.

In a post on her Facebook page, Kim thanked Kontoyiannis and wrote, “This whole filming process reminded me of my humble beginning of life and reflect on how far I’ve come. I am reminded that ‘a day on my wheels’ is meant to be taken one step at a time and I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself. Who knows if I’m going to be a lawyer or a published writer, but the only thing I now know for sure is that I’ve driven myself through various obstacles and detours in my life and not only did I made it but I went above and beyond even my tough expectations of myself.”

h/t Video Up

Originally published: November 19, 2015
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