Dear Four-Year-Old Sarah

I decided to write to you because I want to make you aware that the journey before you will be shaped for you in a way that you can’t even dream of. You will live a life that’s blessed and filled with great fortune. You are only four years old and your mother has decided to settle in New Jersey so that you can have the opportunity to fulfill your highest potential.

She is leaving the beauty of Puerto Rico because, unfortunately, there is no adequate medical treatment for you in her homeland. Your mother is very aware that in order for you to pave your life’s road she must leave Puerto Rico. Don’t worry, you will grow up proud to be of Puerto Rican heritage. Your mother will make sure of that! You won’t ever forget what it means to be Puerto Rican. Your mother is leaving not only because of the immense love she feels for you but also the belief that she has in you. Firstly, she believes in you because you are her child, like your three brothers she knows nothing less than to have faith in you. But above all, she believes in you as a human being. She won’t ever define you as disabled; therefore, you won’t define yourself as disabled.

Indeed, you will have moments of doubts. You will even question why you have to experience disability. But your journey in life will help you understand that being labeled with a disability will be one of your greatest blessings. This is due to the fact that you will grow up to define yourself by way of your abilities; therefore, your label of disability will not keep you from reaching your dreams.

It will not be an easy journey to be on. The things that you learn about the community you so proudly belong to will invoke many different feelings in you. Some of the things you will learn will upset you to the core. For instance, when you learn about eugenics, sterilization, the medical model of disability, and the way people have been treated while institutionalized your heart will break. Sarah, you will wonder about the rhymes and reasons for such discrimination and systematic oppression. At times, you will be angry about the social and economic marginalization of your community. But you will also learn about the beautiful diversity that your community has. Learning about disability diversity will help you to further celebrate yourself and your people.

Keep in mind that you stand on the shoulders of people who have paved the road before you. People like Ed Roberts and Judy Chamberlain, who knew that their voices and the voices of so many others had to be heard in order for change to take place. You come from a rich history that you should always hold dear to you. Your journey will make you keenly aware that there is so much more to do. Your voice is the most powerful tool that you have. You will continue to demonstrate to others that your community is filled with potential and has a lot to contribute to the world. Don’t ever shy away from speaking up because you will know in your heart that all people can be contributors to society as long as they have a respectable place in it!

Be well and enjoy the rest of your journey. There’s more to come!