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Posts Tagged ‘disabled’

Superheroes are coming in all shapes and sizes these days. Here’s an Afghan wheelchair-bound superhero created by a teen born in Afghanistan. Once an admirer of anti-Taliban warlords, he found Gandhi and Mandela a revelation and wants kids to know about nonviolent superpower.

Cristina Quinn reports at Public Radio International, “Mohammad Sayed is unstoppable. At the age of 19, he is already an inventor and entrepreneur. One half of his business, called RimPower, is providing assistive technologies. The other half is a comic book series centered around the hero Wheelchair Man.

” ‘My goal is to help people in wheelchair[s] both psychologically and physically,’ he says. ‘A world where every wheelchair user is empowered rather than disabled.’

“Sayed, who goes by ‘Mo,’ knows firsthand what that’s all about. At age 5, he suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury when his home in Afghanistan was bombed. …

“He spent seven years in a trauma hospital because he had nowhere else to go. To survive, he became a hustler, wheeling around the ward working odd jobs — repairing staffers’ cellphones and taking pictures for photo IDs. He even taught himself English by listening to the BBC — and charged for translation. …

“He never gave up. Even when the hospital staff eventually had to evacuate, leaving him alone with just a few guards. …

“His luck would change six months later, when Maria Pia-Sanchez, an American nurse working in Afghanistan, came looking for him. A doctor who knew Sayed asked her to check on him.

“ ‘So we stopped by the hospital where he had been living to see if anyone was there and if they knew where he was,’ Pia-Sanchez says. … Even though Sayed was so young, Pia-Sanchez says he was entrusted with many things in the hospital that the older staff were not. …

“ ‘Even though that life has ended for me, you know, you will never feel certain,’ the teenager says. ‘These are the kinds of things that stay with you. But what defines us as humans is that some of us don’t give in.’

“His idea of not giving in started to shift when he learned about Mahatma Gandhi. That was his introduction to using non-violence as a weapon, and the whole concept blew his mind.

“ ‘Before learning about Gandhi, my role models were warlords,’ Sayed says. …

“Those warlords were replaced with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela. But in the pantheon of heroes, there was still a piece missing. And it wasn’t until Sayed attended Comic-Con in Boston a couple years ago that everything came into full focus. …

“ ‘At Boston Comic-Con, I was like, why is there nobody representing the wheelchair community? Why isn’t there a wheelchair superhero wheeling around here?”

“So he set out to make Wheelchair Man, an Afghan-American superhero who, upon making eye contact, shows a would-be criminal the consequences of his actions before he commits them. That’s his power.”

More here.

Illustration: Mohammad Sayed
Afghan wheelchair-bound superhero created by Mohammad Sayed.

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Zachary Sampson has a nice article at the Globe today. It’s about a project in Boston enlisting passersby to help create a mural.

The mural “was created by artist Ernest McKinley English. He joined with ArtLifting — a Boston organization that works with homeless and disabled artists — to organize the project, which he said was meant to foster collaboration. …

“Liz Powers, cofounder of ArtLifting, said English’s vision dovetails with her organization’s purpose. ‘Both Ernest and ArtLifting have the mission of bringing people together through art, building community through art,’ she said.”

The mural “held a hidden message that would be revealed upon completion. …

“The part-in-a-whole ethic resonated with many of the artists who worked on the piece, both amateur and professional.

“ ‘I think the greatest message,’ [artist Randy] Nicholson said, ‘is as a community, we can accomplish what we can’t as individuals.’ ” More here.

Years ago, Suzanne and John helped paint a beautiful mural about our town for the commuter rail station. Their names were included in the credits and we always felt proud reading them when we passed by.

Photo: Michele McDonald for the Boston Globe
Sisters work on paint-by-numbers mural outside the Prudential Center.

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In the spirit of the Season, I thought I would share this community-building story from Boston. It shows what can happen when you give the gift of time. It started it out as a one-shot practical thing, shoveling out a neighbor who can’t do shoveling.

And then it grew.

Billy Baker writes at the Globe, “Michael Iceland showed up in front of a stranger’s house in West Roxbury, put his shovel into the snow, and made someone’s day.

“Inside the house was an older woman, and she was stuck, unable to get out of her door, worried she could not get to her mailbox to pay her bills.

“Iceland, 36, a Jamaica Plain resident, cleared that path for her, made a new friend, and felt great about himself in the process.

“It is a common story in the Snow Crew. The brainchild of Joseph Porcelli, the Snow Crew is an online tool to connect the elderly, the ill, and the disabled to people with willing backs. …

“The Snow Crew, Porcelli quickly realized, was about more than snow.

“ ‘Originally, I thought I was addressing a problem, that people needed to be shoveled out,’ he said. ‘It turns out that was a symptom of a larger problem of people not knowing each other and not being connected to their neighbors.’

“That small gesture, helping a stranger, made them no longer strangers. From it, many have reported developing ‘extremely profound relationships on both sides of the equation,’ said Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos, a nonprofit in West Roxbury that became a partner in the Snow Crew.”

I wonder what comparable community-building activity happens in places without snow. In spite of all the problems snow causes, I do love it, not least because a neighbor you hardly know may see you are stuck and come over with the snow blower.

More here.

Photo: Joanne Rathe/ Globe staff

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