About (20) years ago I taught a group of children to sail. They were bright, enthusiastic and as keen to enjoy life as any other child. All however, had a serious disability. Three were in wheelchairs, paralyzed from the waist down. One was nearly blind and had a deformity of his right arm. Two were able to walk with difficulty, afflicted with Cerebral palsy.
The seventh little boy I will never forget. I will call him Matthew. He too had cerebral palsy and was very badly afflicted. His hands and arms were both deformed from the disease and inactivity. His back was bent. His face was distorted and his legs did not work. Even his laughter was a tinkling cough, which racked his body. To speak, Matthew had the help of a letter board. Slowly, and with deliberate determination, he would point out with distorted hands, letter by letter, what he wanted to say. Sometimes he would try to talk. His voice was so distorted that even his constant caretaker could not understand most of his whispered growl. Yet he was always bright and cheerful and loved to try everything his classmates were doing, both in the boat and in the classroom. (more…)