Laurie Thompson’s beautiful book, “Emmanuel’s Dream” eloquently opens:
In Ghana, West Africa, a baby boy was born:
Two bright eyes blinked in the light,
two healthy lungs let out a powerful cry,
two tiny fists opened and closed,
but only one strong leg kicked.
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, born with one strong, and one deformed leg, was a curse to all but his mother, Comfort. Laurie recounts how Emmanuel learned to ride a bicycle with one leg, and later rode nearly 400 miles across Ghana to challenge the misconception that the disabled are cursed and incapable. And that was just the beginning of his journey! Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah continues to inspire us with his passion and compassion as a disabled rights activist, not only in his native Ghana, but all around the world. Want to know more about Emmanuel?
Emmanuel’s mantra, “Disability is not inability,” is realized in the film Emmanuel’s Gift (2005), directed by sisters Nancy Stern and Lisa Lax, and narrated by Oprah Winfrey. Watch it and see how Emmanuel conquered the odds, generated global awareness, won our hearts, emboldened his fellow disabled citizens by improving their lives, and affected social change the world over. The film shows how one person’s dream, courage and
Emmanuel established a foundation in his homeland of Ghana, Emmanuel’s Dream.org. Dedicated to helping empower those with disabilities, Emmanuel is raising funds to build Emmanuel’s Gift Academy, a state of the art school, adaptive therapy center and sports academy for disabled youth, K-12. Already, thousands of wheelchairs have been donated to literally and figuratively mobilize those disabled, and tons of goods have been distributed to support the families of disabled children. In partnership with Dream Volunteers.org, 15 students with disabilities have been enrolled in their chosen schools.
Emmanuel was the recipient of the prestigious Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, along with his friend, the late Jim MacLaren, presented by Oprah Winfrey. The award is given to individuals “possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”
Emmanuel continues to display these attributes—he even did so as a child. Laurie explains that when ostracized by his classmates, Emmanuel saved his money to purchase a soccer ball. He’d share it with his classmates if they’d let him play along. And they did!
A consummate and well-rounded athlete, soccer is still Emmanuel’s first love.
Most recently, Emmanuel was selected for the U.S. Amputee Soccer team after a three day training camp, and played in the 2014 Amputee World Cup in Mexico. The U.S. team began unranked, but ended with a 12th place
Laurie elegantly ends “Emmanuel’s Dream,” by showing us all that …
one leg is enough to do great things—
and one person is enough to change the world.
Emmanuel’s Dream shows us we are all capable of changing the world, one leg, one step, one dream at a time. How will you change the world?
Have an idea, but you’re unsure how to execute it? Have a look at Laurie’s other inspiring book, Be a Changemaker.
Please leave a comment on this post, or any other post this week, and be entered to win a signed copy of Emmanuel’s Dream, by Laurie Ann Thompson!
Maria writes fiction and nonfiction picture books while dog Becca snores at her feet. This is what they do when they’re not writing (or snoring). Her debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in July 2015, with a second Penny & Jelly book to follow in Spring 2016. Maria has both fiction and nonfiction picture books forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, Aladdin Books and Boyds Mills Press. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary. To learn more, please visit her website: mariagianferrari.com, or visit Maria at Facebook.
Photos of Maria & Becca by Monogram Arts Photo.