On March 31, I went down to my sister's school and spoke to the Elementary school kids about my disability during their Chapel time. Here's what I said to the kids. Enjoy!
My name is Rachael Benson. I’m Miss Benson’s sister. I have CP or Cerebral Palsy. I was born on February 8, 1983. I was born two months early because I got pneumonia while I was in my mother’s womb, which caused a lack of oxygen supply to my brain, which caused the CP.
The main thing I want to stress is that I was born this way. You’re not going to get what I have by coming up to me. CP is a condition not a disease. If I were sick, I wouldn’t be able to be here. I may move a little slower than you or have to do a few things differently, but I’m just like you. When I went to school, I was in regular classes and did all the homework everyone else did. I had a one on one aide with me in the classroom. My aide acted as my hands, to do the work I couldn’t do. When it was time to do math, my aide would write the problems for me and I would tell her how to do the problem step by step. If there was a craft, my aide would cut the pieces of paper with scissors, and I would glue the shapes. If there was a string involved, my aide would cut and tie the string and I would pull the loose ends.
I got the same grades everyone else got for the effort I put out there. The only difference was that it might have taken me longer to finish an assignment. I can’t write so I type. I don’t have full use of my hands so I type using just my index fingers. What takes someone who has full use of his or her hands ten minutes, might take me twenty minutes. The work gets done and the teacher gets the assignment on time. Sometimes I’m so careful about timelines that it drives other people crazy!! My mom tells me, “Don’t worry, it will get done. “Quit fretting!” She would say. But I still fret every now and then.
My disability is physical not mental. Sometimes people will ask the person next to me, “Why is she in a wheelchair?” I’ll immediately jump in with an answer like, “I was born this way.” I may even show them how my wheelchair works. I also have a walker. When I was in school, I played kickball. Somebody else kicked the ball, and I ran the bases. I was pretty fast! If you have a question about me, it’s okay to direct the question to me. Go ahead be bold! You won’t hurt my feelings. I love educating people. When I was in high school, and the kids would do that, my aide would say, “Ask Rachael. She has a physical disability, not a mental disability.”
Fifteen years ago my father died of a massive heart attack. He was the one who really set the tone for how the family would handle my disability forever. When I was born, we knew I had a condition, but we didn’t know what it was. I wasn’t diagnosed with CP until I was three months old. When I came home, my father said, “This is now the new normal.” He meant that it was going to be normal for our family to go to ten different doctors. It was going to be normal for our family to go to physical and occupational therapy on a weekly basis. That was the way our life was going to be, and that was okay. Anything the family did, I did too- maybe just a little differently.
My mother has always said, “Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.” She has always said that God has had a purpose for allowing me to have CP even if we don’t understand all the reasons.
I call Romans 8:28 my life verse. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who are called according to his purpose.” There’s a purpose in me having CP, or God wouldn’t allow it. God doesn’t allow any trial in our life that’s not going to bring us closer to him. Maybe without the CP, it would be harder for me to have a faith in God. I really believe that because I have CP, that means I need help with certain things that a person without a disability wouldn’t need help with, therefore I get to see how God works in people’s lives and experience his goodness. Having to depend on other people has taught me about the freedom we have when we accept Jesus into our hearts. God didn’t say oops when I was born. He’s perfect. A lot of people have a hard time accepting Jesus into their hearts because it means letting go of control of their lives. They’re afraid they’re missing out on something good. They think God is a God of rules and regulations and they have to give up their fun when they come to him.
The truth is, it’s just the opposite. If I didn’t have God and a loving family in my life, I don’t think I could handle the challenges of having CP. It helps me to know that there’s someone greater than me helping me carry the weight. Someone who walked the earth and experienced every emotion I’ve experienced before I was born. Yes I have moments of discouragement when I wish I didn’t have to have CPwatch.
There were many times, and even today when I would think, “Why God Why?” Because I have Jesus in my life, I’m able to have peace and joy knowing that I’m not alone in my trials. Knowing that this life and this body are only temporary. Someday I’ll be in heaven with Jesus where I’ll have a body that can run without a walker, kick, and maybe even do a cartwheel.
I graduated from Valencia High School in 2002. Then I went to College of the Canyons and in June 2007, I got my A.A. degree in Social Science. After that I went on to pursue a career in writing children’s books. I just got my first one published. It’s called "The Hunt for Heaven." I’m working on a second one called "The Special Gift." I also have a blogspot. http://rachaelsadventuresinfaith.blogspot.com/. My goal is to pursue writing as a full -time career. In addition to writing books, someday I want to write for a Christian magazine for children. I want to share my life experiences and share the gospel in a unique way. When it really comes down to it, you and I are pretty much the same. We do have our differences, but we also have a lot of similarities. Like you I look forward to seeing the big plan God has for my life. Thank You.