A “You Can” Attitude Helps Children with Disabilities Find the Courage to Shine

Editor’s Note: Thomas Exler, the president of the Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community (ABC) , also is the chairman and founder of Courage to Shine, an organization created to provide information for others, like Exler, who have found ways to overcome their problems and become successful people. As Exler explains, “I was lucky to find role models who showed me that nothing’s impossible for people like me. But not everyone has the opportunity to meet others who have led highly visible, successful and rewarding lives in spite of their disabilities. That’s why we created Courage to Shine – to introduce individuals to other people with similar challenges and to provide a forum and a webpage where individuals can find role models who have demonstrated that there are no limits for people with physical challenges.” Part 3 of a 5-part series.

Children with disabilities can be just as courageous as an able bodied person--they just need positive support.

Children with disabilities can be just as courageous as an able bodied person--they just need positive support.

When parents learn that their children have a medical issue like bladder exstrophy, often their dreams for those children cease, and the parents suffer along with the children. However, on the front page of the Courage to Shine website, we can show parents what their children can achieve, and what other people with the same or similar medical problems have gone on to do and become. The parents of these special children need a place where they can get information about what their children can achieve, and examples of people who’ve overcome similar challenges to prove there isn’t anything they can’t do.

These parents need to see that their children’s dreams can be accomplished and that the best way to treat their children is not as though they have disabilities, but rather that they don’t have any excuses for not being successful. If the child has siblings, don’t treat that child any differently than you do your other children. By parents focusing on what children with disabilities can do, then they’ll gain the potential to be as successful, if not more successful, than their able bodied siblings. These children have the opportunity to gain as much courage as their brothers and sisters. If these children overcome fear and learn a strong work ethic, there’s nothing in this world they can’t achieve that they want to achieve.

Consider Clay Dyer and Scot Hollonbeck. These individuals and their parents who have believed in and encouraged them always have had positive mindsets. These parents have had to deal with problems each day, just like their children have. When a child’s born with a medical problem, the parents have to deal with and help that child see all the things he or she can do. This process begins from the time the child is born until that child learns to be independent. Oftentimes, the parents play the most important role in that child’s success, especially if the parents preach the gospel of, “You can,” instead of, “You can’t.” If the parents build a good foundation of encouragement and motivation, then when these young people are old enough to use the Internet, they can come to our website and see how others with their same conditions have been highly successful. When this happens, the mission of Courage to Shine will be fulfilled, and the world will be a better place for all of us.

The Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community does a good job of supporting people with urological disabilities.

The Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community does a good job of supporting people with urological disabilities.

In 2009 as the vice president of the Association for the Bladder Exstrophy Community (ABC) we co-hosted a joint conference along with the Hypospadias & Epispadaias Association (HEA) were we had seven countries represented. I noticed several adults at the conference who seemed to be slightly bitter. These adults never had been given the opportunity to meet extraordinary people who had overcome their medical conditions, nor were they ever encouraged to live courageously with their particular type of medical problems. There was nothing that we could do to change their attitudes of, “Nobody understands me,” ”Nobody has the problems I have,” and “No one realizes how difficult my life is.” I couldn’t take these people back in time, give them the same type of support group that I enjoyed while growing up and show them that all things were possible. But I could let them see the great people like the ones featured on this UroMed webpage. I was taught how to be successful and encouraged to find the courage to shine from an early age. You can demonstrate a truismby example and by using words mouthed by someone who understands. 

We want to show the next generation what the ones who’ve come before them have been able to accomplish, and what they too can accomplish.  For instance, a young woman I know works for the Peace Corps and works with young people with disabilities in a small, Soviet republic. This young lady grew up with bladder exstrophy, and I worked with her in some of the camps being conducted for children with medical problems. She’s one of the great examples of a young person who had a medical problem, and now because of what she’s learned from dealing with the problem she’s had, she traveled abroad to help youngsters in that country learn how to deal with their medical issues.

Gemma Copito works with the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps will work with young people with disabilities.

She’s using the coping skills she learned to not only overcome her own limitations and challenges but also to help children from a different country deal with many of the same problems she’s already faced. She can say, “I’ve been there, done that and learned how to overcome it, and you can too.” What a tremendous testimony to show young people how and where to find the courage to shine. I have probably 50 or 60 friends with some type of medical challenge, who are doing amazing things all over the world.

Next: No Mountain Is Too High To Climb With Courage

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

3 Responses to A “You Can” Attitude Helps Children with Disabilities Find the Courage to Shine

  1. Pingback: Life’s Great Possibilities Await For People With Disabilities Who Find The Courage To Shine « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

  2. james davis says:

    So, how do you help someone become thier own advocate and actually get others to listen to you?

  3. Reblogged this on Courage to Shine™ and commented:
    From UroMed Hometown Heroes – Originally posted on January 27, 2012

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