by Maya Girimaji, managing editor

I’ve probably scrolled hundreds and thousands of miles on Instagram. Things are constantly clogging up our feeds. Trivial things like “Kylie Jenner just cut her hair” or “Find out if you’re a dog person or a cat person”. But every once in awhile, I stumble across a gem that makes me feel something. It might be happiness, sorrow, or anger, but it evokes emotion. And two weeks ago, Special Books By Special Kids did just that.

I found Special Books By Special Kids on Instagram and continued to stalk them on Youtube and Facebook. Special Books By Special Kids (SBSK) was founded by Chris Ulmer, who travels around the U.S. and interviews people with special needs. He records these interviews and puts them online for everyone to see. SBSK’s goal is to share these stories with families who are experiencing something similar or just to reach out to the community. Watching these videos has made me realize several things.

When Chris asks, “What do you want the world to know about you?” every single person that he has interviewed has always replied with some variation of “I just want to be accepted and treated like everybody else.” They don’t want to be treated as someone different. What they do need is your love and acceptance of them. They want to be treated like everybody else does. And they feel so strongly about this, too. Angela, one the kids interviewed by SBSK, firmly said “When you feel sorry for me, you’re wasting your time. And you’re wasting my time. We don’t have time for pity.” And they really don’t. Every single person that Chris has interviewed accomplished great feats. They didn’t let their disability control their life. Kanye, who has been battling a DIPG brain tumor, recently graduated from high school. Peri, who lives with muscular dystrophy, is a member of her school’s newspaper, student council, teen advisory committee, and National Honor Society. Ava, who survived a brain injury, is now able to communicate using a combination of words, sign language, and gestures. Gabby, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, is on her school’s cheerleading team.

They don’t let the disability control their mind set either. They are some of the most positive individuals on this planet. Kyle, who was diagnosed with autism, has found that “through laughter he can overcome life’s challenges.” This statement really stood out because it reminded me that at the end of the day, no matter the situation, positivity is key to keep on moving.

Everyone has different ways to communicate. Some speak, some use a machine, some smile, some grab Chris’ hand. They each have a different way to show Chris their response to his questions. Nonverbal expressions never mean that they weren’t aware or din’t understand the conversation. Sometimes the disability is more physical and verbal and has less of an effect mentally.

In every single video, Chris begins by saying thousands of people around the world will be seeing this. And that those thousands of people love and believe in them. He showers the special needs person with compliments. He praises them for overcoming their fears and challenges everyday. And when he does that, you can always see such a positive and thankful response because they feel loved and appreciated. Chris believes that “in order for any human to meet their full potential they must be believed in.” When you’re watching these videos, you can see that because these individuals are surrounded by family and friends who believe in them, they are able to do anything they put their mind to.

It’s incredible to see how many people are following these stories and commenting such wonderful things. I urge you to be a part of this community and hear the stories yourself. You’ll be surprised by how amazing every single one of these interviewees are. Instead of wasting your time reading pointless articles or scrolling for hours and looking at nothing, let those hours be spent on giving your attention to some amazing and inspiring people.

SBSK links: WebsiteFacebookInstagramYoutube