People Like Me
"Where can I go?" asked Douglas, a 23-year-old with cerebral palsy. He had called OM with an idea: "I want to go help people just like me." So the OM USA team helped him partner with a community of disabled children in Asia. It's been a perfect fit. Douglas sees potential in the kids that their own culture doesn't because, as he says, "I've been there."
Douglas loves distracting the kids from the pain of their daily exercises with his encouragements and contagious smile. Then he gets to tell their parents his story. "I can explain why it's so important to exercise regularly and why acting on your potential is so important. It's also really important to me, especially here, to help parents understand that what is here is not all that might be. There is great potential for what their country might become for the disabled community."
One little boy in particular gravitated to Douglas early on and after a tough day of therapy, reached up to Douglas to be held. After going through his mental checklist to ensure he was balanced, Douglas picked up his new buddy and he stopped crying. "This meant the world to me," Douglas beamed. "I do my best to comfort them because there's no language that can make physical therapy feel better."
As a big fan of new cultures, Douglas wants to hear every kids' story. And as someone who has "been there" he knows that every beautiful, disabled child in this community has potential waiting to be unleashed.
"I'm in awe, overwhelmed and humbled that I'm here to do this," Douglas says. "I don't feel like anyone's inspiration and yet I can say to these moms that their kids have amazing potential because I was where they are and now look at me. I know for a fact that with help, perseverance and proper supervision, some of these kids will walk. The more I'm here the more I realize I was meant to be here. I was made to be here."