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Our Biggest Barrier is Social Attitude

"My life so far has been very challenging with many ups and downs," said Haseeb Abbasi of Pakistan. He was standing on the TedX stage in Lahore. "In villages of our country, most people with intellectual disabilities never get a chance at happiness, never get a chance to learn, never get the opportunity to play. Love and acceptance are missing from their lives." Haseeb told the story of his own life, how he found talking so difficult that he felt isolated at school. But he persisted, and discovered something about himself through Special Olympics leadership training. "Special Olympics Pakistan gave me courage, confidence and the power to compete," Haseeb said. He's now using the story of his life to change the way people in Pakistan perceive people with disabilities. "In Pakistan society, a person who is born with an intellectual disability may be perceived as suffering imposed by Allah. The family of them thinks they have been punished for some misdeed. So many of us are left out and even denied access to the most basic services, like health and education. instead of sending us to the few special education schools that exist in Pakistan, we are kept at home." He has found success at school and in Special Olympics sports and leadership programs, but he is like everyone else. "Everyone struggles and has difficulty with something. We do struggle with our lives, but the biggest barrier in our lives is the social attitude," Haseeb said. "We need to move away from a culture of sympathy and pity." And that is why he was on that stage in Lahore. Watch his full presentation on YouTube at the link below.

About Me:

I am the General Secretary on the board of Special Olympics Pakistan. I have been involved with the movement since 1989 when I was a volunteer at the first City Games in Karachi.


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