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True Perfection

As typical, normally functioning American teenagers, we don’t think twice about tying our shoes, feeding ourselves, much less articulating our speech. What is a monotonous routine for us is climbing a mountain for them.
They were born with malformations, tumors, diseases and disorders. Their lives revolve around doctor visits, physical therapy, speech therapy and schoolwork. After spending two weeks volunteering at The River Center for Performing and Visual Arts, my eyes have been opened, revealing the shocking, yet incredible, horizon of the special needs community.
It all started with a spark of self expression. A girl named Samantha and her parents began searching for a dance academy that would allow her to begin ballet classes. However, Samantha was born with cerebral palsy, a genetic disorder focused on improper brain development and motor function. No dance academy in all of Houston would accept Samantha based on her physical disabilities.
Samantha’s parents didn’t feel this was right. Why should special needs children be denied the same rights we, the non-handicapped, take for granted everyday? If she had the will, what was the problem?
Their response to the issue was creating their own fine arts camp that allowed children with all sorts of mental and physical handicaps to artistically express themselves for only a fraction of the typical academic price. These days, 13 years later, The River is home to nearly 100 disabled students and their siblings. They offer four classes throughout a six-week summer day camp, including dance, drama, art and music.
I became especially close with a girl named Esperanza, whose name has been changed for privacy purposes. I can’t reveal her age or medical information, but I can tell you just how adorably amazing she truly is. Her face is slightly deformed, she is very skinny and has a difficult time walking properly due to her mental and physical state. She cannot pronounce words correctly or coherently, but she most certainly finds a way to tell you what she means. She is an excellent listener, and a die-hard Hannah Montana fan. I truly miss her, and her gorgeous smile.
During art class one day, the teachers brought in some Play-Doh, clay molds and cookie cutters for the kids to play with. Esperanza grabbed one mold in particular, one where you smash a giant hunk of Play-doh into the center and fold it shut like a book. Pink, being Esperanza’s favorite color, came oozing from the sides of the mold. With all the strength inside of her, she pushed that mold until all the excess had fallen from the sides, leaving only the ideal shape of a human body left inside.
After pulling the clay from the center, Esperanza began trying to talk to me. I sat there, watching her point at the figure, becoming frustrated with me as I tried to guess what she was trying to say. At last, I figured it out.
“Perfect,” she had said. “He’s perfect.”



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HouseOfNightVampire said...
Dec. 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm
my nephew has cerebal palsy. wonderful story.
 
jmcshs said...
Aug. 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm
Very well written and loved the "perfect" conclusion.It brought the story around full circle and left the reader thinking, always a good thing.
 
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