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Twenty years ago, I was born prematurely at 23 weeks, weighing only 1 pound. I spent the next 10 months at Neonatal Care at Hackensack Hospital, and then four more months at the Rehabilitation Unit at Children’s Specialized Hospital. I received early intervention to address delays in speech and language, fine and gross motor skills, and sensory integration. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists would come from local agencies. I’m thankful to the three specialists who helped me learn how to talk, walk, and use my hands. If it wasn’t for the doctors that saved my life twenty years ago, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m thankful to my parents who have stood by my side and never gave up on trying keeping me alive.
When I started elementary school in Fort Lee, N.J., I found my classwork to be too difficult. I tried hard to overcome my academic difficulties during my early school years, such as problems understanding and organizing paragraphs, completing math problems with multi-step directions and self-control. During recess, I was getting bullied. Eventually my parents took me out of the Fort Lee Public school district and I was transferred to Banyan School which was one hour away from home. I was very successful and I received good grades.
When I entered Ridgewood (N.J.) High School, I continued to work hard on my academics, participated in bowling and improved my time management skills, such as getting to class on time. I always worked hard in school to succeed academically, reach my highest potentials and to accomplish my dreams.
During weekends and summer vacation, I gave back to the community by volunteering. The places that I volunteered at were Valley Hospital, SHARE House for the elderly, Cancer Center at Hackensack Hospital, Ridgewood Public Library, and Camp Sunshine (a camp for kids with disabilities). Volunteering made me feel good. At the Share House I played bingo with the elderly, talked about their lives, helped them to learn basic computer skills. At Camp Sunshine I helped the kids swim, do arts and crafts and play games. At the Ridgewood Pubic Library, I put books away, organized them, read to the younger kids, and gave away prizes. At the Cancer Center at Hackensack Hospital I helped to serve lunch for patients who received their chemo treatments and who would need to spend many hours being there. At Valley Hospital I delivered flowers to patients, cleaned up the waiting rooms, provided assistance at the administrative office in any kind of work they would ask me to help with. When I walked out of each of these places, I would have a huge smile on my face knowing that I did a good job and that I made the patients, kids, seniors and the management happy.
I believe that special education children should be mainstreamed because they improve academically and socially and it builds their self-esteem. Special education kids need to be allowed to receive support for the dreams they have. Being involved in the regular community allows them to become socially active and builds their success for life. I think that mainstreaming special education kids pushes them harder and makes them feel confident in themselves. If special education kids learn just like the mainstream kids, it will make them stronger and can potentially provide them a better, more independent future.
My dream is to become an assistant physical therapist. Since I can remember, I have been receiving physical therapy and still do today. Physical therapy helps me get stronger and tighten my muscles. As a little boy, a physical therapist would come to our house in Fort Lee to work on stretching and balance activities, to improve maintaining endurance and body posture with gait. I’m grateful to those physical therapists- they helped me learn to walk and now I even enjoy dancing. Without their help and dedication, I wouldn’t be able to run or play the different sports that I’m involved with. My goal is to help others, just as I am helped. I strongly believe it’s an excellent career for me to pursue.