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ADA 30주년 기념 Writing Contest [1st place]

KASEC’s ADA Awareness Writing Contest

1st place: Abigail Hamid (10th grade, Palisades High School)

Prompt: Define disability in your own words

Having a disability means you are unique. 

Wonder tells the story of Auggie, a young boy with Treacher Collins Syndrome. After being homeschooled his whole life, he is ready to take the next step in his life to attend his first year at Beecher Prep.

“What’s the deal with your face?” A malicious peer points out to Auggie on his inaugural arrival to campus. “I mean, were you in a fire or something?”

In the face of cruel insults, throughout the film, Auggie refuses to be defined by his deformity. After a performance when his classmates erupt in applause in the auditorium, Auggie remarks, “There should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” This kind-heartedness—his empathy for acknowledging and displaying love to others are rare qualities in society today. Most people may not even have the ability to recognize what is needed for others to be happy, many others are not concerned with the notion at all.

In a memorable scene, Auggie’s mom says, “You really are a wonder, Auggie.” Auggie’s survival through his condition turned out to be a medical wonder, sure, but what makes him unique is the wonder of his strength, bravery, and perseverance through all the obstacles life has thrown his way. There is a part of him no one else in the world shares because of his circumstance.

In my own life, I have been impacted by scoliosis, the abnormal curvature of the spine. Since I received the diagnosis four years ago, my perspective on the world was flipped upside down. When I see Auggie, I see tremendous strength in the face of classmates who taunt and disrespect him. Like Auggie, I am aware of a feature of mine that requires ongoing treatment and hospital examinations but after watching him, I have recognized my disability can set me apart from everyone else in the world—in a good way. One little boy empowered me to embrace my difference and not let others’ views get in his way, or in my way. Through him, I learned I should not be ashamed of my body.

My disability should be utilized as a platform to educate and inform others what it means to have a condition like my own to inspire those who can draw strength. Auggie’s positive response to his disability motivates me to continue to use my experience to show other girls and young women that being powerful is a trait stemming from within and that we can leverage what’s inside to succeed.

We are quick to jump to conclusions based on people’s outward appearances: someone’s skin color, fashion sense, attractiveness. What we do not realize is that internally, we are all the same. Before Auggie, I would avoid the topic of my scoliosis or wear clothes that would cover my body. Through Auggie, I am reminded that greatness, or uniqueness, is achieved by demonstrating qualities we all possess — courage, kindness, character, and friendship.

Auggie is proof of this and I hope to be so as well.