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'I am proud of myself'

Yanique Mendez not deterred by wheelchair

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 17, 2014    

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Being confined to a wheelchair is no setback when it comes to academics for 17-year-old Yanique Mendez who is enrolled in the pre-university arts programme at Moneague College in St Ann.

The famous quote from national hero Marcus Garvey, "Without self-confidence, you are twice defeated in the race of life", is what guides this confident teen who believes she can achieve her goals despite being physically challenged.

With nine Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects under her belt, Mendez is looking to excel at Moneague College before matriculating to the University of the West Indies.

Having accomplished all she has despite these odds, Mendez said she is proud of herself.

"I am proud of myself; it makes me more determined to go for what I want," she explained.

Mendez's life changed five years ago when the then first former of Ferncourt High School was injured in a motor vehicle crash which left her unable to walk.

Although the teen's initial response was one of disappointment at learning she would be confined to a wheelchair, Mendez has since put all of that behind her and is now working hard to make her dreams into realities.

"I felt anti-social but after going back to school I adjusted to the situation," she told the Jamaica Observer North East.

Mendez said she was encouraged to continue school in Kingston where some facilities would have been better equipped for a physically challenged person. However, she wanted to return to Ferncourt High, a decision she has not regretted.

"There are a lot of persons who motivate me, my mommy Stacey-Ann Robinson, Mr Lenworth Sterling and Ms Donna Edwards motivate me," she said, adding that she was also well supported by other family members as well as her school community.

She admits to wanting to be like Dorothy Pyne McLarty, a Jamaican whom she admires.

"My mentor is Dorothy Pyne McLarty. I want to be just like her," she said.

She is now assiduously working towards her goal of pursuing a career in law and politics.

"I like arguing," said the former vice-president of the Debate Club at Ferncourt High.

Her determination and hard work is a motivation to many.

"She is always positive, no matter what," her friend, Kemille Johnson said in admiration.

"She is a force to reckon with. The wheelchair does not take away from who she is. She is a motivation to anyone. It seems as if sometimes she is not in a wheelchair," Johnson continued.

She also explained that Mendez likes to socialise and, as such, has many friends.

Mendez lives an active teenage life, socialising with friends and attending school functions.

"I like reading and listening to music," she said.

The teen who has matured mentally in dealing with her situation had this advice for peoples who may be physically challenged and are battling with accepting their reality:

"I would encourage them not to let physical or other challenges hinder them from accomplishing what they want to," she encouraged.

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