Look Beyond the Wheelchairs; see the people

21 Comments 27 October 2011

By Linda Bazzi and Zena Khouryzat
Unis Middle School

“Never give up, even if you’re in a wheelchair,” says 8th grade 13-year-old Kassem Sleiman.

As we walk through the hallway, we see nothing but kids, classmates, friends walking, laughing, bumping into each other, and then we see Kassem and Kutaiba strolling along without a word to anybody except themselves, thinking they can’t wait to get out of this mess, this mess that they will never be apart of, this mess that they wish they were a part of.

Kassem Sleiman

Kassem Sleiman

Kassem, who goes to Unis Middle School, was born without working legs. Ever since he was just a little baby, he had to use a wheelchair.

Could you imagine having to work your hands all the time, or not being able to stand up on both legs, not being able to run?

Or how about when we have to get up right away in the morning?

Kassem has to get up and throw himself into his chair with hands that have the feeling of when you first wake up and it feels as if a pin is to heavy to carry.

Well, Kassem has to get up and roll himself, he has to work his hands all day and he has to have the determination and spirit that anybody else would have while running a marathon they practiced for, for years.

Linda and I could not imagine having to be in a wheelchair, not being able to stand up on our sturdy legs. That is why we admire Kassem so much.

Kutaiba Alrefaai

Kutaiba Alrefaai

Another person that we greatly admire and look up to is Kutaiba Alresaai. Kutaiba suffers from a disease called muscular dystrophy, which is a group of inherited disorders that involve muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue, which get worse over time. Kutaiba also has suffered with this disease since he was born. He says, “It’s frustrating, you know, having to be in this chair all of the time.”

Linda and I sat down with Kassem’s helper, Mr. Berry and asked him a few questions. We asked him how long has he assisted Kassem. He answered, “two wonderful years,” with a smile upon his face.

Mr. Berry said that when he was younger, he didn’t know he would end up being an assistant for disabled children. We asked if he ever notices Kassem putting himself down and he answered, “No. Kassem doesn’t really see himself different and he shouldn’t.”

We I realized that Mr. Berry really cared for Kassem and enjoyed his job. He is the kind of person who disabled kids need to have assistonmg them. Helpful people, caring people, and people who help disabled kids believe in themselves.

Mr. Faouni, Kutaiba’s helper, has assisted Kutaiba for three years. When asked if he ever feels frustrated with Kutaiba, he said, “No, not with Kutaiba, but with how things work, like how hard it is for Kutaiba to sit on a regular chair, or to get through the hallways without running people over. Faouni is really helpful. Everyone can see it and realizes that he is always there for Kutaiba, no matter what. That is what takes a great assistant to disabled children.

Kassem and Kutaiba, said that sometimes it hurts to get looked at differently. As they spoke these words, Linda and I looked at each other and thought, “how could someone look at them that way?”

Your Comments

21 Comments so far

  1. April Kincaid says:

    Wow! You guys really took your lessons to heart this year. I am impressed with the visual pictures you have made with your words. This story is gritty and full of emotion. Keep up the great writing!

  2. inshirah sufyan says:

    I cant believe that there are people out there who have to suffer with such harsh diseases, and I see you guys in the hallways many times and I always wondered what your story was.

  3. I feel bad for people who were born to suffer thru life, ”BUT NEVER GIVE UP”! I always see them in the halls and i would always think if that happened to me. Anyways, GREAT STORY Linda and Zena! <3

  4. I am really sorry for you Kassem and Kutaiba but i hope you guys feel better. This was really touching. I always see you guys in the hallway and I wonder what is going on. Good story, Linda and Zena.

  5. Mariam C. says:

    Great story! I hope you all the best in the future!

  6. Linda bazzi says:

    Thanks you everyone <3

  7. Abdul hamad 6thhour says:

    Wow, that is so sad to see someone in a wheelchair because it is hard for them they won’t get to play gym and join sports. It is very sad.

  8. Noor Khalil 1st hour says:

    People in wheelchairs are people. Just because they are in wheelchairs it doesn’t mean they are different. They are just like us. Good job, guys.

  9. nabila alhashedi 1st hour says:

    I think that they are very brave to talk about their situation and how they feel.

  10. Congratulations on your 2nd place win for best feature story at The 2011 Middle School Level – Michigan Interscholastic Press Association Contest! I told you this story rocked! Keep up the good work, Ladies.

  11. niveen dabaja says:

    GOOD JOB!!! this was a really good story when i started reading it i couldnt stop my eyes were glued to the screen! :)

  12. exellent work,it was a perfect story and topic that deserves a 10 out of 10 great job this story makes people think about appreiciating their lives instead of complaining about theyre too tired or giving up about running or walking in the loooooong hallway and that their class is too far from their locker. well get well soon Kutaiba Alresaai and Kassem Sleiman and i hope someone finds a cure from this deisese.

  13. That is a sad and toouching story. Kutiba is my neighbor i would aleays feel sorry for him when i see his brother outside playing but heh had to stay inside. Great story Guys:)

  14. aterra says:

    i am really sorry to hear that from you guys an i hope you feel better kuaiba and kassem
    i see you guys in the hallways every single day when im at school some times i just wanna help out because the story is very touching macking me wanna cry.

  15. Fatima Jomaa says:

    WOW! this story is amazing i loved it so far #1 for me great job Zena and Linda keep up the good work!:d

  16. Alaa Saad 6th hour says:

    Wow this story was really sad and nice at the same time! Good job!

  17. Nouras Sahib says:

    I feel very bad for people who are in a wheelchair. I think people that are in a wheelchair should never give up. I also think if anyone in a wheelchair was bullied you should stand up to them. Finally all people should help people in a wheelchair and encourege them to never give up.


  1. Unis has winners, photo exhibit at Michigan State | The Living Textbook - December 22, 2011

    [...] The winning story was about kids in wheel hairs at our school, and how we should see the people instead of the wheelchairs. “My heart dropped into my stomach when i heard my name being called, I was in complete shock”, says Linda Bazzi. Here is a link to read the winning story. [...]

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Unis Middle School

Unis School serves grades K-8 in the Dearborn Public School District. The school principal is Heyam Alcodray. These are its beliefs about education:

  • A student's highest potential includes improvements academically, artistically, emotionally and socially.
  • Student achievement requires a cooperative effort among parents, teachers and the community to provide encouragement and reinforce core values.
  • Good instruction is assessment-driven, outcomes-based, active, and engaging.
  • Effective instruction touches the world of each student providing for different learning styles and needs.
  • Education is a life-long process that prepares students to be successful, contributing citizens in a changing world.

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