Constanza Orbaiz
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I take the train every Monday. Then I get off, walk a few meters and take a taxi. I struggle a little to get into the car, tell the address and off we go. Then, through the little mirror the driver smiles and says: - Nice day, huh? - Yes, indeed. - Are you hanging out? I don't know you, but I'm not that lucky at 3 p.m. on Monday. -No, working- I tell him as loud as I can. - Oh, and what do you do? - I'm an educational psychologist. I work figuring out ways to empower others. Poor guy, I left him speechless! (Applause) Anyway, on Mondays at 3 p.m. I'm on my way to work. I work in a school and with private patients with disabilities. In the school where I work, the kids know I talk like this. I speak weirdly and Salvador, aged 4, says it is because my tummy aches. (Laughter) But no. In fact, I speak like this because when I was born I went into respiratory arrest and into another one 12 hours later. That lack of oxygen resulted in a brain injury affecting my entire motor function. Cerebral palsy, said the doctors. At that time, nobody knew what I would be able to do. But one thing was sure: whatever I did, would be done differently. During primary school, many teachers supported me. They were able to see all I could achieve. Of course, there were others who thought I would never finish primary or secondary school. University was out of the question. Others preferred having me at the back of the classroom because it seems they didn't know what to do with me. They were not prepared. Nobody is prepared. Disability doesn't send you a whatsapp to say: "Get ready, I'll be there in 5." (Applause) Anyway, the best way of being prepared is valuing diversity as part of everyday life. Valuing each student, each person, for their potential. In the school I work, there is Miguel. Miguel - aged 5 - finds it difficult to remain seated. His teacher turns to me worriedly. I observe him and suggest he should sit on a chair, not on the floor so that his feet and back are supported, he feels secure and can pay more attention. Just like me. When I'm seated I get less tired and can pay more attention. And it worked. Because focusing on what we can do always works. Because based on what we can't do... (Applause) Nothing can be built, it falls apart. After school, kids have football, dance lesson or hockey. But children with disabilities have therapies. Long hours, different faces, different perspectives. And when I was a girl, that was reflected in my games. Yes, my dolls had therapies. (Laughter) When I was playing with a friend, she would say: "How strange, I'm playing to take them to the park and you always take them to a place called kinesiology?" What you live as a child leaves a mark on you. That's why it's so important that those of us who work with children know how to treat them; above all, they are children. After graduating, I founded Desde Adentro. A project through which I spread my approach on disability. Because studying about a crooked leg is not the same as living daily with a crooked leg. It seems the same formulas are repeated for cases that are already different. For example, "Cerebral Palsy: strengthen the torso, stimulate the march, put splints, do surgeries", a pinch of salt and pepper. And the person? Did they look at them? Do you know how they live with their difficulties? Do you know their wishes and fears? With kids, do they respect their playtime so necessary for their growth? The answers will let us know what people need to be themselves. And so the cabinet where we classify the diagnoses will be too small, because the person is always much more than a diagnosis. (Applause) But it’s not easy for everyone to work in this way. It seems disability is a mirror nobody wants to be reflected in. When I was a girl, one day a nun approached. She looked at me and said: "I hope you get well." (Laughter) I looked at her and without hesitation I said, "I'm already well." Sure, because in any case, to be cured meant learning to live with my condition. And to learn it’s necessary to generate more flexible contexts, it’s not only about building a ramp - and not blocking it - but creating environments where people with disability can be themselves without having to look like anyone else to receive the inclusion award. (Applause) What needs to be done is simple. Make what is already difficult easier. We are not poor little things, nor little angels. We are not special, special effects are special. (Applause) We don’t have a handicap, Golf players have a handicap. (Applause) We are people with disabilities. People. Thank you very much. (Applause)