From Where I Sit

That's What Friends Are For

Not Everyone Understands

by Holly Holmes

Teens in high school have no idea what goes into being in a wheelchair. I’ve heard them comment that they think it’s fun having people do things for you all the time — even if it’s not done exactly how you would like it. They don’t know what it’s like to be persuaded to do something you don’t want to do, because there aren’t many things you can do, or to wait on people who eventually let you down, or to see people do something you wish you could do.

Holly Holmes  
Holly Holmes

When these things happen, I turn to friends who have the same feelings. I have several longtime friends with muscular dystrophy and two with spina bifida who help me talk it out, vent and coax me to get past it. These are the kinds of friends to have!

I also write to vent. I write about how I wish that for a couple of days someone could be in my place. I wonder what they would think and feel about the circumstances, the duties, the obligation and the self-discipline of having a terminal illness.

My advice to other teens going through the same thing is this: Remember to stay realistic about the unfairness of the situation. There isn’t anything we can do to change it, so get someone you can talk to about how you feel, so you won’t feel like you’re the only one going through it.

And most importantly, know that everything happens for a reason and for the purpose of good! You may be going through a very tough time in your life right now, but there is an end to everything, including time. Just stay strong and persist till you see the good in it and then you’ll know you’ll be OK.

Holly Holmes, 19, lives in Oklahoma City. She has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 3.

Group Means the World

Kelly Cooper  
Kelly Cooper

by Kelly Cooper

MDA teen group is a place to hang out with friends, discuss the problems we face in our everyday lives, learn about things that will help us in the future, have parties and fun outings, and get some freedom from our parents.

At teen group, we have people to talk to about issues in our lives that have to do with our disabilities. Speakers share information on topics that help us prepare for the future when we won’t have our parents around to do everything for us.

Our group leaders are always there for us. They’re role models, and encourage and inspire us. When we lost a member of the teen group, they helped us grieve and remember all the happy times we had together. Personally, they helped me by giving me information that helped me decide I wanted to go into the medical field.

We do plenty of fun things in teen group, like Halloween parties, going to restaurants, and having a sleepover party with makeovers for the girls and video games for the boys.

MDA teen group means the world to me — as much as MDA summer camp does. Without it, I would only see my friends once a year at camp.

Parents, I definitely recommend sending your teen to a local group for teens with disabilities, even if your child doesn’t want to go because he or she is shy. We’ve had teens come who were really shy and they loved it so much they kept coming back.

Teen group helps develop social skills and gives teens freedom from their parents. Parents are encouraged to leave and let their teens have good, safe fun. Great relationships bloom, and friends become best friends or boyfriends and girlfriends.

If there isn’t a teen group in your area, I strongly suggest you talk to your MDA office about starting one.

Kelly Cooper, 15, lives in Owings, Md., and has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.


Laura Medcalf  
Laura Medcalf

by Laura Medcalf

In this world, this crazy, hectic world,
We are in need of helping hands.
In this crazy, foolish world,
We are in desperate need of people who help others stand.

Very rarely do you find people like this anymore,
Who support others in need.
Instead, you find people who ignore,
People who ignore others’ needs.

I am thankful for those who reach out,
And those who lend that helping hand.
For they erase all my doubts,
These angels on Earth are who make happiness expand.

Laura Medcalf, 16, lives in Indianapolis and has SMA type 3. She dedicates this poem to “those who have helped and supported others in need. Such kindness helps the world go around.”

The Energizer Bunny

Lauren Williams  
Lauren Williams

by Lauren Williams

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” I’ve met great friends at school and work, but never any as precious as the ones I’ve met at MDA summer camp.

MDA campers understand the true meaning of friendship. Does it really matter what a friend looks like? It’s easy to judge by outward appearances, not by personality. At camp, we understand each other’s feelings because we’ve been through the same kinds of experiences.

Linked to camp is my MDA teen group that meets once a month. We have a good time and just feel normal, not the “outcasts” we’ve all felt like before.

Teen group keeps us going during the year. At camp, everyone is completely charged with perseverance and inner strength. We leave knowing “we’re not so different after all.” But during the school year, things can get stressful. Teen group works as our Energizer Bunny to charge that battery of motivation we have inside.

Dealing with my diagnosis in middle school was hard for me. One week I’d have a lot of friends and the next week people would turn their backs and say mean things. I didn’t know anyone from MDA camp or teen group, and I felt like I’d never have any real friends.

Teen Group

Going through that tough time made me a stronger person, but it would have been less painful if I could have called some of the camp and teen group friends I have now. It would have made me feel a lot better knowing someone else had gone through the same things.

The past is past, and in high school I haven’t had trouble making friends. In fact, today I get along with most of the people who were mean to me. But I know I’ll have my MDA family through thick and thin — friends who won’t look down on each other when life changes.

Lauren Williams, 18, lives in Baltimore. She has Becker muscular dystrophy.

More on Teens & Mentoring

For more about MDA’s teen support group program, see “With a Little Help From Your Friends.” You also can read other comments, including one from a parent of a teen, in Quest Extra,