THE LATOYA EDWARDS' STORY
It is every mother’s heart desire to welcome into the world a healthy baby boy or girl. With this desire, a mother hopes for the best and that all her child’s tiny fingers, toes, legs and hands are intact. On Wednesday May 20, 1987 my mother Miss Yvonne Gayle gave birth to a beautiful baby girl by the name of Latoya Ann- Marie Edwards. On that day, filled with emotions of laughter and joy, she was never prepared to be told by a doctor, that her baby was not healthy.She learnt that her baby needed immediate medical attention. My mom being the young lady she was,took the news with great strength.
Fast forwarding to the age of two, this was when my mom realized that I was unable to walk and decided to seek medical advice. She was later told that I had a leg deformity which would hinder my mobility. My mother did all she could as a single mother at the time and was referred to the non-profit organization in Spanish Town located at 14Monk street called 3D Projects. At this organization both my mom and I came in contact with the loving and professional staff, where I was introduced and assigned to a Rehabilitation worker by the name of Mrs. Dorothy Ramsay Daniels, which I affectionately refer to as my second mom.
I must say that it was fate that brought us together and as I sit and reflect to as far as my memory can take me in my earlier years as a child struggling to walk, I remember vividly my numerous visits to the office of The 3D Projects , where my mother’s back and sides were my mode of transport. This time brings back smiles mainly it was “jacky back or jacky ride” for me because she made it fun. Upon each visit Mrs. Daniels would talk with me and took care when administering my exercises, due to the pains caused from the stiff joints and muscles.
To be honest my best visiting times were at home and school, she would come to both locations to do her routine checks and for me this was a delight, mostly because at home, this meant a free time from reading; do not get me wrong I loved reading as a child, however it could be a bit boring when this was all I could do as a child with a physical disability. At school, this was even better due to the fact that I got to go outside and talk with her, while attempting a few exercises. I was never scared or worried once growing up with my disability; however I saw it as the driving force to do well and to keep the fire of resilience and determination burning to ensure that I would be able to walk one day.
It was time for me to enter primary school and I was able to walk around, even though at times I required assistance. I saw and still see my disability as a motivation to never give up and never allow my disability to affect my life’s journey in a negative way. It is with this same spirit I entered St. Jago High School despite my socioeconomic and physical challenges. I will always be thankful to the staff at The 3D Projects, who on several occasions facilitated me in using the computers to do my assignments especially my Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), School Based Assessments (SBAs) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) assignments which I sat, and was successfulat both levels. I could not have done it without God’s guidance and their help. I give thanks to the Lord each day for my blessing “my disability’’, yes it is my blessing and not my curse. My disability has given me the drive to overcome life’s obstacle with smiles.The hardest years dealing with my disability were during my years at a territory institution where I was accepted to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management, where I had to travel back and forth each day on public transportation and let me tell you.
people are ignorant and cruel towards people with disability; I have experienced it first hand on the buses. I did not allow them to stop me, their stares and remarks were like water sliding off a duck’s back because they did not know that I was created for a purpose and they did not know “MY STORY”. Growing up in a single parent household and trying to obtain a degree was overwhelming financially but once again, The3D Projects stepped in and I was referred to the Jamaica Council for Person with Disabilities (JCFPD), where I was granted financial assistance towards my tuition for my first two (2) years. This was a huge blessing and I will forever be grateful.
In spite of being busy with school I was never too busy to stop by my extended family at The 3D Projects to assist with whatsoever I could, as this was my way of saying “THANK YOU GUYS” for everything. The 3D Projectshas changed my life and so many others of my friends with disabilities livesand we are eternally grateful. I am currently employed and am adjusting in the society and contributing my fair share. This organization has taught me many lessons that I still take with me and apply daily to my life, however the one that resonates with me the most is that “One may not see the work they do and the sacrifices they make, as well as the impact they impart”, but I can attest to you that the staff at this organization are “SUPER HEROINES”. Each day they leave their families and go out to help “SPECIAL CHILDREN” and their families to make the challenges they face with each disability a little easier and they do it with a smile, even though the monetary reward is little to none.
I end this reflection with a smile because looking back I found my personal super heroine, Mrs. Dorothy Daniels at my special place, The 3D Projects, where I know I will always be seen first as a person and be treated as such, instead of being seenby my disability first and the person I am is left in the wind.
I salute you all!