WEST CALDWELL, NJ — On March 15-16, Dr. Paul Wichansky visited Washington School in West Caldwell, New Jersey, to share his experiences with his disabilities: cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Dr. Paul is a motivational speaker who travels between different schools to speak about his disabilities and experiences. Grades K-5 were at the assembly (virtually), and I enjoyed the presentation along with all my other classroom peers. He spread the thought that if you take the “dis” out of “disability,” you’re left with “ability.” He taught everyone to use their abilities to their advantages and always push yourself to do more. 

If I had to choose one word to sum up the assembly, I would end up with the adjective inspiring. What really came as a shock to me was how cruel some people can be. But what really mattered was how nice others really are. And especially, how people can change. 

Dr. Paul was very uplifting and motivational, but what really stood out were his stories. I felt sad when he shared certain stories; I felt humored when he told a joke. I felt bad for him at the start of the assembly, but near the end I didn’t. That’s partly because he doesn’t feel bad about his disability anymore. He believes everyone is perfect the way they are, and I admire him for that. 

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My favorite part of the entire presentation was Dr. Paul’s stories and what he included. The story about the football player who picked him out of his cafeteria seat and put him in the garbage can, was-yes- sad, but also humble near the end. Years later, the very same football player found Dr. Paul on Facebook… and apologized! And Dr. Paul forgave him. The moral of that story was to always forgive. 

The fact that Dr. Paul couldn’t walk for several years and then learned was amazing. As he said, one of his doctor’s told him he would never be able to walk, while another told him that with a lot of work and practice and perseverance, he would indeed be able to. Then, he had to learn to walk all over again due to a car accident. And, to my surprise, Dr. Paul shared his experience was sad, but he didn’t give up hope. He learned how to walk again.

I enjoyed the presentation. It was very inspirational and now I'm motivated to do nicer things and stand up for those who are being bullied. I hope that in the future people will learn to be as kind as Dr. Paul and accept people the way they are. I hope everyone found the assembly as encouraging as I did… and aspire to be kind, motivating, and as big-hearted as Dr. Paul! 

To learn more about Dr. Paul and what he does, visit his website: www.justthewayyouare.com.


Liliana Swanson is a fifth-grade student at Washington School. Her article is published here just as she wrote it for TAPinto West Essex.