“I truly believe in potential”
“Through personal interactions and befriending Lauren, Stacey and everyone at the youth groups, I have learned very valuable lessons that shapes me to be a more sensitive, understanding and less ignorant individual.”
Precilia Kong is a Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia (CPABC) program assistant volunteer with the Youth Without Limits support group. Kong is currently in her third year of studies at the University of British Columbia, where she is majoring in integrated sciences (combining the disciplines of neuroscience and the foundations of human health).
To further her understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome, she has been working this past year as an undergraduate research associate at the National Core for Neuroethics, located in the UBC hospital. Her research focuses on how culture can influence the understandings and perceptions of these conditions.
She believes illness and disease are inevitable components of life. That’s why Kong aspires to become a doctor – to try to make a difference and help alleviate the process of various diseases and to contribute positively towards each individual she meets. “If I can change the life of at least one person for the better, that would mean the world to me,” says Kong. She helps out the Youth Without Limits support group run by and for individuals with cerebral palsy and other disabilities by attending tri-weekly meetings, helping to set up the sessions and perform the tasks that needed to assist the group.
The group has held five sessions so far, and has focused on topics such as disability in multiple minority groups, identity and disability, language and disability. Upcoming topics include dating with a disability and ageing with a disability. She feels these topics can be hard to tackle, and poses hypothetical questions such as, “Do you think society has begun to accept those of different races? Accept women in the work force without sexual inequality? Accept those different than the norm?” We don’t fully know the answers, but Precilia feels that there is a general understanding around the disabled community and hopes that society respects and appreciates the contributions of people with disabilities.
“Society is imperfect,” says Precilia. “We tend to blame differences and strive for normality and conformity. Being a realist, there is definitely room for improvement.” However, she believes that mentalities are changing and individuals are becoming more willing to understand and accept those with disabilities. “I truly believe in the potential,” she says. “In order for this to happen, our society needs to take a step back and become educated on the matter, take the initiative to learn and personally interact ; ultimately diminish any preconceived stigma or prejudice.”
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