Monday, January 18, 2016

“Freedom never comes on a silver platter”

“Ghana reminds us that freedom never comes on a silver platter. It’s never easy…It comes through hard labor and it comes through toil.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about Ghana after attending independence celebrations in this West African nation in 1957, at the invitation of Ghana’s new Prime Minister Kwame Nkuramah 

Twenty years later, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in Ghana.

“Two healthy lungs let out a powerful cry,
two tiny fists opened and closed,
but only one strong leg kicked.”

Laurie Ann Thompson wrote and Sean Qualls drew Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah.  We often hear about Dr. King’s dream. But Emmanuel had a dream too.  Emmanuel hopped to school on his one leg; he played soccer “lunging and spinning on crutches.” He learned to ride a bicycle and when he was only 13, he snuck away to the big city of Accra to earn money to send home.

Emmanuel’s mother died when he was still a boy, but she told him, “Be respectful, take care of your family, don’t ever beg. And don’t give up.”

Those words were a gift. Emmanuel would show everyone that “being disabled does not mean being unable.”

Freedom never comes on a silver platter.

Emmanuel rode his bike all over Ghana. He wanted everyone to see him - and his disability. “People with disabilities left their homes and came outside, some for the very first time….He proved that one leg is enough to do great things - and one person is enough to change the world.”  Now he has a foundation called Emmanuel’s Dream  that is changing society by empowering people with disabilities.

Emmanuel’s story can inspire student writing (or drawing) at many grade levels.

        What is your dream? What can you do to help make your dream come true?

At first nobody played with Emmanuel, but he earned their respect by learning to kick a soccer ball with his good left foot and learning to balance on his bicycle with the help of a friend.

        What could you do to help someone who seems left out at lunch or on the playground?

Emmanuel’s Dream is a brand new winner of the 2016 Schneider Family Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience. It is also recommended for Read Africa Week February 1 to 7: the first week of Black History Month. Africa Access and Howard University invite teachers, librarians, parents and other concerned adults to introduce young people to great books about Africa all the time, but especially during Read Africa Week.  It is a perfect way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and introduce children to new people and countries to admire.

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