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Essay Four

Gilberto Peña

Growing up in Southern California in the city of Lynwood I have been exposed to an environment filled with hardships and imperfect situations. Every day, as I walked home after school or passed through the streets of Lynwood, I encountered many strangers who looked physically different from my family and friends. During my time in elementary school I always saw a group of kids who looked unusual and acted in a strange manner before class began. As a seven year old boy, I was unaware of their physical and mental disabilities. Honestly, I feared their physical appearances and behavior. I was puzzled as to why they looked and acted differently than all the other kids in my class.

One day, as I observed the children’s caretakers giving them medications, I was curious about what exactly they were being given. I finally asked my mom about the children and she gave me the answers to my curiosities. Then and there my perspective and judgment on the disabled children changed as I became aware of the conditions in which they were born with and the reasons for their use of medications. I was more welcoming to the disabled children and saw them as normal children who had no defects. I was motivated to interact with them and not make them feel any different than the rest of the students at my school. Typical of young elementary school boys, bullying and unjust treatment to the disabled children occurred. The ridiculous behavior from my classmates disturbed me and encouraged me to act upon that cruel behavior. This motivated me to assist disabled children in the world and help them live a normal life.

I have worked tirelessly and devoted many hours to the movement of helping disabled children. My most memorable and meaningful effort to achieving my goal occurred in high school. As a leader in the Spanish Honors Society, I helped lead the members of the Society in raising money for the Teleton USA foundation by devoting several hours before school, during lunch, and after school to raising money for the children. I would wake up early to show up at school in the morning to sell hot chocolate and churros. I sold churros during lunch and after school as well. It was difficult to continuously wake up early and spend my lunch away from my friends. Witnessing my fellow classmates go home immediately after school while I stood later to raise money was at times challenging to experience. However, I always reminded myself what the sacrifice was for. The hours of service was to continue my life long mission of helping the disabled children overcome their incapacities and live an ordinary life. The members and I donated over one thousand dollars to Teleton USA. We were the only school to be recognized on national television on the Telemundo channel for our efforts in raising money for disabled children throughout the United States. Our appearance on television was an event in my life that highlighted my effort to impact the lives of disabled children and provided me with the feeling of satisfaction in my mission to proclaim the movement in helping disabled children.

As a seven year old boy I never imagined that I would go this far in my effort, let alone receive a certificate and be recognized on television. The hours that I have sacrificed in my daily life to advance my effort in assisting disabled children have not only tested my patience and commitment, but it has also benefited my maturity and leadership as a young man. Although I have reached an unimaginable milestone in my plan to help all the disabled children in the world, I am not done yet. I will continue to gather more people as a community to help a worldwide effort in contributing to the lives of disabled children.

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