Ron Wyant is leading the charge as a senior with cerebral palsy in British Columbia. He is among the first generations of individuals with CP living to senior-hood. Despite his pioneering status, he admires younger generations for their strength and accomplishments. He encourages others to enjoy life and make the most of every opportunity for growth, such as travel or volunteering. Ron feels that patience is key to have as things don’t always happen in a moment. “Now, everybody is in the ‘now’ generation and they want things to be done yesterday, not tomorrow,” he says.
Sometimes it’s like good wine – it takes time to age. – Ron Wyant
At 67, Ron has not stopped living a Life Without Limits. He doesn’t view himself in light of his disability and feels others don’t either. “My CP is so slight that it’s not like I’m a disabled person going around. People look at me as being a whole person, because my disability is hidden.” Ron says he is able to go virtually anywhere and do anything that he wants. “When I was younger and went to New Zealand, I hitchhiked all over New Zealand,” he says. “I have coordination problems and I’m slow, but it’s not noticeable.”
Ron feels his condition was not explained in full to his parents. His mother was overprotective and his father got irritated when he knocked something over, leaving Ron with confidence issues. “It leads you to have an attitude that you aren’t good enough,” he says. Ron says his coordination and balance are poor, and he cannot ride a bicycle or skate. “I wouldn’t want to try now as my bones are too brittle.”
As a youth, he traveled the world and visited different places, gaining insight into multiple cultures and broadening his perspective on how people live life. There were no limits for Ron, who traveled through Europe on a EuroRail pass, getting off and on when he pleased. “I went as far east as Austria and I went as far west as France, as far south as Spain, Germany, Holland. [I was] unable to travel to Berlin due to travel restrictions in regards to going through East Germany at that time.”
Travelling was a rewarding experience for Ron. He stayed in youth hostels and took a lot of photos. “I couldn’t do [now] what I did then,” he says. However, her feels an individual with a more severe form of CP might have a different experience. “I had my mobility to do so, but the challenges of someone with mobility problems would be mind-boggling. In North America, they are very cognisant of getting wheelchair-accessible places, but you don’t get that in Europe, or Mexico, or Kenya.”
Embracing his disabled identity
Ron got in touch with his identity through volunteering for 10 years at the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia (CPABC). The position was rewarding as he was able to assist with bookkeeping and filing. Ron found volunteering beneficial as it kept him busy when he didn’t have a job. He is inspired by staff members at CPABC who live with a more severe form of CP. He looks at them as a source of strength and strong-will. “A lot of able-bodied people can take a lesson from these people.”
Despite advancements in equality and inclusion, Ron points out that there are still challenges, such as the discomfort or easiness that exists around a certain individual who is different. This also includes the feeling of pity towards a person with a disability or being treated extra nicely as a result of one’s disability. Ron says people should think twice before speaking because words can hurt. He believes that this is the case for everything.
“I could say something off the top [of my head] to you and hurt you without even realizing it,” says Ron. “Just try to be kind to each other.”
This story was shared as part of World Cerebral Palsy Day 2016