Changing The Label

By Dr Saba Akram.

Let’s Celebrate the International Day for the disabled people by changing their label of disabled people to “Lion-willed and Audacious People”, Let’s honor these audacious people and help break down disability barriers and celebrate abilities. Let them feel safe, secure and welcomed in our society not just today but every day.

A wise man once said, “Every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them”.

When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. But what do you say about the people that are bitter, don’t find joy in life and take everything for granted. The people targeted as disabled are the ones who have naturally been born with a condition like autism, cerebral palsy, ALS, blind and deaf people the list goes on… Savage people attack the natural order of life not literate people.

PEOPLE!!! Stop the misunderstanding about the potential and power of the people with disabilities.


December 3rd was declared the International Day of People with Disability by the UN since 1992.

  • BECAUSE around 15% of the world’s population, or one billion people, , “the world’s largest minority”, often do not have equal access to society or services, including education, employment, health care, transportation, political participation or justice.
  • People are often unaware of the great number of persons living with disabilities around the world and the challenges they face.
  • The day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
  • It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life.

 AS The Secretary UN- General Ban Ki-moon has said

Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity.”

Each Year 3rd December is given a theme like Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all (2013), Sustainable development: The promise of technology (2014), Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities (2015), Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want.(2016)

Let’s make the theme of 2017: Change their label to the Spirited/ Audacious People instead of disabled people. These people are the actual beams of courage, determination and inspiring hope.

 It is a great achievement for any man to perform extraordinary acts – but it is even more so when this is done despite a terrible disability. There is a long list of people who have made a major mark on society through their actions or through succeeding against all odds.

Some Prominent Examples around the world:

Helen Keller (first deaf-blind person to earn a BA degree) Stephen Hawking ( a Scientist suffering from ALS), Christopher Reeves (first Superman, suffered from spinal cord injury at latter part of life), Beethoven- Deaf, Marla Runyan(Stargardt’s Disease)

Some praiseworthy mentions from Pakistan

Haider Ali (Pakistan Para athlete suffering from cerebral palsy), the Pakistan first blind cricket team, Syed Sardar Ahmed Pirzada (Blind journalist ), Muniba Mazari , the first wheel chair model of Pakistan , who took the media by storm. Painter and a public speaker inspiring hope to all the people. There many others like them.

 Stephen Hawking gave the perfect advise “Concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically. ‘

 These are the actual role models for us, inspiring hope, showing us that courage and strong determination can take you to up the flight of success. It takes more than courage to face the adversities to win over and be victorious. If they could do it, so could you!

This event is worth mentioning here as example, the spirit, the kindness and the happiness I experienced by reading it (I haven’t changed a word) 

At a Fundraising dinner of a school for children with disabilities, One father questioned the audience, ‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. ‘Where is the natural order of things in my son?’ The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’ then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs, but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognising that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman .Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first! Run to first!’ Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball. The smallest guy on their team now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’.

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third! Shay, run to third!’ As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home! ‘Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team. ‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

 We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the ‘natural order of things.’

Let’s pass along a little spark of love and humanity to make our community caring and warmer to live in or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process? The choice is yours to make

 Let’s make our Pakistan considerate, safe and secure for all the diversities living in it. May Allah bless us all.(Ameen)

Have a lovely day.

About the Writer:

Dr Saba Akram is an online pharmacist who feels that counselling people on general health can reduce the need of medication. My motto is “A kind word is better than the sweetest syrup.”

You can email me at


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