Disability didn't stop her from being first UAE woman to skydive

Disability didn't stop her from being first UAE woman to skydive
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Published September 23rd, 2017 - 20:53 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Currently the ambassador of integration at Sedra Foundation in Abu Dhabi, Jassim is an active speaker on the rights of people of determination. (Photo: Khaleej Times)
Currently the ambassador of integration at Sedra Foundation in Abu Dhabi, Jassim is an active speaker on the rights of people of determination. (Photo: Khaleej Times)

"If you can dream it, you can achieve it," a popular saying widely shared in schools and organisations applies to everyone, including the people of determination.

Fatima Jassim has set such an example when she became the first Emirati female to skydive, despite the fact that she's born with cerebral palsy. Currently a research and policy educator at the Community Development Authority (CDA) while pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Strategic Communications at Zayed University, the 21-year-old's mission is to pave the way for people of determination to pursue their dreams.

"[Skydiving] was like a dream come true. The view of the palm from the top was worth every second," said Jassim, who went paragliding in South Africa last year.

Moving around in a wheelchair was not easy for her, and while it took time for the Skydive Dubai team to prepare for the jump that required a medical consent, Jassim said the outcome was well worth it.

Currently the ambassador of integration at Sedra Foundation in Abu Dhabi, Jassim is an active speaker on the rights of people of determination. Through her role, she raises awareness through workshops and works in discovering suitable jobs for people of determination.

In June, she was the first UAE delegate at the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP) in New York where she discussed how to empower and support the people of determination and overcome the obstacles they face in their communities. "Connecting with the global community in terms of advocacy and just hearing stories from around the world was really enlightening," said Jassim.

She said although the country is taking huge steps towards the people of determination, there's still a long way to go.

"One of the main challenges is focusing on the parents and laying out the opportunities they have for their children. People's assumptions create a stigma around people of determination and put them and their parents in certain criteria although they have a lot to achieve."

She added: "The most important is to guide parents and try to remove stigma and raise awareness."

Jassim added that the national policy for empowering people with special needs, introduced in April, will change many things and improve the life of people of determination in many sectors including healthcare, education, sports and social protection. With the government's aim to make Dubai one of the world's most disabled-friendly cities by 2020, Jassim said accessibility for the disabled will become much better in the near future.

With the government is taking the right steps and initiatives towards that segment, Jassim said people of determination themselves have to have the motive to be part of the community, and must take the initiative to become better.

Despite the circumstances, Jassim won the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance 2012 when she was in grade 7. She was homeschooled during the last two years of high school to give better balance for her treatment and volunteer work.

With the growing focus on people of determination growing for the past 10 years, Jassim said her family faced many challenges along the way.

She hopes through her work that she alters the difficulties she faces to make the journey easier for others. "I want my work to serve people of determination, empower them and guide them to be active people in society."

"When I face a certain challenge in the community, I know it is my obligation to change this for other people," said Jassim.

What's on her list next? To skydive again and pursue her master's degree. For her, education is a journey that never ends.

By Sherouk Zakaria

Copyright © 2017 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.

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