LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Everyday people are faced with troubles. Some days can be harder than others. Sometimes we dream of living better, having our own place, being able to contribute to society, and be independent. People with disabilities have these same dreams, dreams of working and being independent which are often unattainable due their being overlooked or outright discriminated against based on their disability.

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MY bubble burst when I was told that one of my children needed to be referred off-island for appropriate medical care.

After years of advocating on behalf of other people’s children, suddenly the stakes became far more personal...and my own child became at-risk of not receiving appropriate care. Now more than ever, I believe that all families with children need to plan for what will happen in case of a medical emergency.

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I HAVE been a student for a long time. I’m not just talking about being a life-long learner, but as a student in pursuit of a higher educational degree.

My greatest hang up in my studies has been my loathing of mathematics. I first took Algebra back in the late 80’s in the 9th grade and as it so happens I also earned my first “F” in school. Summer school before my sophomore year earned me another “F”antastic grade in Algebra, and I was frustrated. I just couldn’t get it. Finally in my senior year, my counselor placed me in Career Math, which was great. I learned to balance my checkbook, count correct change and write a check properly. These are things I could use in my life, not Ax^2+ Bx=C. Suffice it to say I passed the class, although with only a “D.”

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I CONSIDER myself very lucky to have grown up in Micronesia most of my life. Our islands were named Micronesia, meaning small islands in Greek, by Jules Dumont d’Urville’s in 1832. He was a French explorer, naval officer and rear admiral, who explored the south and western Pacific. Prior to this, our islands were part of and called Polynesia.

As I grew up traversing our tiny universe of islands most of my life, I came to realize just how beautiful it is to have a variety of languages, cultures and people. Like the striking colors of the rainbow, our people shine.

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The other day I was speaking to a group of students at one of the high schools, when one of them began asking questions about depression. “How do people get depression? What are the signs and symptoms of depression?” I began to inform them that people are depressed for various reasons, one of which could be the result of bullying, or they may have feelings of low self worth. It all depends on the individual, their experiences, and their coping methods.

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It all began like thunder clapping in October of 2009 when the Autism Society of the CNMI or ASCNMI under the leadership of President Barbara Merfalen and Vice President Romeo Cuellar. ASCNMI launched the very first Quiz Nite trivial challenge!

Quiz Nite has taken root in our community, and is now an annual event for bragging rights of who knows the most about disabilities, and issues surrounding it, with a healthy and equal mix of totally random trivia.

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WELL, let me see, where do I begin?

In 2001, the year I began working in the disability field, was the first time I heard and learned about the various disability programs in the CNMI, as I was a teacher prior. As I began working with our fine folks in the disability related offices in the CNMI, I began to realize that we have great potential because of the people, and the skills they bring to the table. Slowly but surely, our collaboration began, and continued.

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OUR people with disabilities on island may look different, or act different, but that is because they are just as unique as you are. Believe it or not our people with disabilities on island also have many things in common with you, including but not limited to the desire to love and be loved, to be included in all aspects of our community living, and to live the way they choose to.

Since Nov. 21, 2001, when I began working for NMPASI, it seemed at least to me that one of the biggest barriers for people with disabilities when dealing with others is the fear of the unknown. It is just a defense mechanism, and a natural human reaction when confronted with someone or thing unfamiliar.

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HELLO, my name is Greg and I am an alcoholic.

I have said this statement in many meetings that I attend to address a problem I face daily. I am thankful I have not hit rock bottom as many of “Bill’s friends” are prone to do, but there are still incidents that I regret. I am not a violent drunk, and I do not bring domestic violence into our home. The problem I do face is the fact that I become absolutely useless after certain days of over imbibing. As a result, my children are affected by a certain degree of neglect. I am unable to help them with their school work, cook food or play games with them. They are not alone.

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