Academic Excellence: Overcoming The Challenges Of Cerebral Palsy4 min read
Synopsis: Riady was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects muscle coordination. This means that activities such as writing, walking and speaking are not easy tasks for him. Watch this video to see how Riady rose above these challenges to become an undergraduate in Nanyang Technological University.
Riady was born with cerebral palsy. It is a disorder that affects his muscle coordination and limits his physical movements. When he was born, he needed a ventilator to breathe. His vocal chords were damaged, which made his voice much softer than normal. The doctors couldn’t provide any solution. It was difficult for Riady in school. He needed triple the time others took to get from one class to another. Whenever he had back-to-back lessons, he would be late. It wasn’t easy to ask questions because his teachers could not hear him. Completing essays were also challenging as he couldn’t write or type fast enough. What made things worse was that some of his friends in school made fun of how he walked and how he spoke.
Sometimes, I got really frustrated and anxious for my future. I wrote too slowly. I walked too slowly. I spoke too softly. It seemed impossible to do well. There were times I thought, maybe I should just give up on studying.
Things began to change when Riady came for Academic Excellence! Pastor How shared that studying is for the training of our minds. Riady realized that being physically limited did not mean he was mentally limited. Instead of being frustrated, he reminded himself of what was shared in AE: “A little further…a little longer…a little more…” He took every long break in school to study more. He even practiced typing faster to complete his essays. Pastor How also taught us that in life, it is more important to ask the right questions than to find the right answers. Riady began to be curious and asked his teachers more questions after lessons. Studying was no longer something he endured, but it was something he enjoyed!
Honestly, there were times when I felt tired. But I would pray, and God would encourage me! One verse I clung on to was in Isaiah 40:31. I knew that God could give me the strength to overcome!
And Riady really did! For A-levels, he did even better than he expected. His results earned him a place in his dream course, English Literature in Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
My connect group was always there to encourage me too. When I first started university, Peijun and Dany showed me how to travel from NTU to Paya Lebar in the most convenient way possible.
In school, his friends in church helped him to get around whenever they saw him. When he came to church for connect group meetings, everyone took turns to help him up the atrium stairs. We were all so amazed by Riady’s tenacity to come to church despite the difficulties.
When Pastor How heard of Riady’s story, he had an idea to offer Riady a job to translate some of the church materials into Mandarin. He knew Riady was good with languages and this was a job he could do from home. So it was a perfect fit! It was on Pastor How’s heart that if Riady could do translation work, it would not only boost his self-confidence, it may even be something he could do as a career in the future. Pastor How even insisted on paying Riady market rate as he did not want Riady to ever feel that he was of less worth just because he had physical limitations. Riady was so excited to be offered his first job. It was an opportunity for him to use his talents for God! This really expanded Riady’s thinking and gave him a vision for the future. He took up the job, and this exposure inspired him to take up a minor in Translation in NTU! Riady wanted to improve his skills so that he could be even better at what he does.
After that experience boosted his confidence, Riady also decided to volunteer for the church’s Translation ministry! He even controls the screens, which display the Mandarin translation of sermons in the services. He really inspires all of us. Today, Riady has completed his first year in university. And his current GPA is 4.12 out of 5!
I want to thank God for always being there for me. I also want to thank Pastor How and Pastor Lia. Thank you Pastors for starting AE. You never saw me as someone with limitations, but instead you gave me the courage to dream big, and showed me how I could have a purpose to live for others. With God, I can overcome all limitations! I believe if I can do good and do well, you can too!