I am a Mother of two boys- Arjun (17 years & Senior in High school) and Angad (11 years & 5th grader). Angad also has Down syndrome. When hurricane struck Japan, Angad was moved to help people and he collected $100 from neighbors and friends to donate to Red Cross. Red Cross posted his achievement on their blog (april 22, 2011)
“Angad Sahgal, a Special Needs child raises money for Japan”. (http://atlantaredcross.wordpress.com/2011/04/)
While I loved the fact that Angad’s effort was appreciated and applauded, I did not like “special needs” as a defining term for him. Angad is not limited or defined by his disability. He is a leader, a determined, charismatic young man with a sense of humor. He is a purple-black belt in karate and has kicked & sweated hard to reach this belt color.
He is sensitive and loving and can never, ever see anyone sad or upset. He is the peacemaker of our family, who will in his “no nonsense” voice make the warring parties kiss and apologize. He teaches us love, generosity and so many other things that I wonder why there cannot be more children like Angad! And, in this respect he is “special”.
Angad and Arjun are each other’s strongest advocates. Both have their dreams, passions, strengths and areas of improvement. While my older son wants to join politics or public policy, Angad wants to be a police officer. And, wherever destiny takes them if they respect and honor people for who they are and not judge them by their “labels”, they will be successful human beings.
We want the world to see that Angad is a blessing and has so much to offer. If we raise the bar and our expectations from our children, they will outshine and outperform. My biggest supporters are people like Master Cho (Angad’s karate teacher) who treat him like a “regular” student and I struggle the most with systems and people who have been conditioned to think of disabilities rather than abilities. Make our education system gain flexibility in this thinking, please.
We need organizations and communities to open their doors and provide more opportunities. As Angad grows older my husband and I have to plan to make sure Angad’s dream of being police officer come true. Will the sheriff’s office or law enforcement office work to provide employment opportunities for him? I wonder and dream.
Story From Red Cross
Sometimes out of tragedy and destruction come the best stories of hope and inspiration. After hearing about the disaster in Japan resulting from the earthquake and following tsunami, Angad Saghal, a 10-year-old special needs student from Atlanta, was moved to help play his part in providing help to Japan.
Like most of us, Angad learned of the destruction in Japan from the television news and talked about the tragedy with his mother, Aarti Saghal. The overwhelming destruction in Japan leaves most of us silent in shock, but Angad asked himself what he would need after losing everything. Naturally, Angad worried about Japanese children who would be without toys and other comforts
In an effort to meet basic needs in emergencies, sometimes we forget that the best reassurance can be found in comfort. Aside from basic needs such as food and shelter, I wondered to myself what would bring me comfort if I lost all my material possessions in an emergency. I’d certainly miss my library of books collected and fondly read over time, each volume reminding me of the leisure of reading. Knowing the importance of giving comfort, Angad rallied his family around him in order to fundraise. With help from his mom and using a letter template from school, Angad wrote a letter to send to family, friends, and relatives. His older brother, Argun, helped him design a flier to express the purpose of the donations. After mailing and distributing the letter and fliers, Angad received incredible support from his neighbors, family in Chicago, and even friends in Australia to donate money.
Although this is Angad’s first time fundraising for a cause, he raised over $100 to give to the Red Cross for aid to Japan. Knowing people worldwide are sending aid to Japan, Angad hopes that, “People will contribute to help rebuild Japan.” With a smile Angad concludes, “And send toys, too.”
Angad’s heartwarming story inspires me to remember that comfort is always a welcome relief in a disaster situation. We can never predict emergencies, but the ability to provide support and comfort to others is at the heart of the mission of the Red Cross. It is through actions of ordinary people like Angad and his family that extraordinary acts of kindness change our world.