children’s books: determination

What if you were looking for a subject for children’s books? What if you were born in a country where children with disabilities were shunned?  Srikanth Bolla was born in a small village in India. He has been blind since birth. His parents were faced with a heart-wrenching choice. Would they follow the usual custom, feeling their baby was “useless” or “better off dead?” Fortunately, they did not bow to the pressures of society. Instead they encourage Srikanth to work toward any goals he wanted. What did he do? Now twenty- four year-old Srikanth owns a well-established company where about seventy percent of the employees have some sort of disability. But that’s not all. His business, which “manufactures eco-friendly packaging,” is worth millions of dollars.

When Srikanth was small, he attended school with able-bodied children. Unfortunately, the children were not welcoming or kind to the young blind boy, who was also from a poor family. Most days, he was ignored at school. Eventually, his parents decided to send him to a local school with special needs children. Here his talents were recognized. Before long Srikanth won awards in “debating, creative writing, Chess, and even Cricket for the visually impaired.”  Still, there were obstacles he had to overcome to realize his dreams.  What happened when Srikanth wanted to study certain sciences? “He was banned from studying sciences when he reached 10th grade, because it was deemed too “dangerous” for a blind student. This was a big setback since it meant that he could not take the necessary board examination to pursue his dream of becoming an engineer.”

“Not one to give up, Srikanth took his plea to the Indian courts and became the first visually challenged student in the country to be allowed to study sciences after 10th grade. But despite scoring 90% in the national board exams, Srikanth was not allowed to take the entrance exams for any of India’s top engineering colleges. So he decided to apply to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA. Srikanth was not only welcomed with open arms, but also granted a full scholarship.” How amazing is that? Srikanth would never have achieved such remarkable success if he had given up on his dream.

Although I have never faced the daunting challenges that Srikanth did, I had obstacles to overcome. The first of my children’s books, Tails of Sweetbrier, is a true story which details my journey. I’m grateful to my parents who encouraged me to set big goals and pursue them.  If you choose to read this story, I hope it becomes one of your favorite children’s books and reminds you to follow your dreams.

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copyright 2016: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

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