Congratulations to Amber, our 2021 Cerebral Palsy Scholarship Winner!


Michigan State University

Amber (she/her; they/them) is currently an undergraduate student at Michigan State University, studying environmental science and sustainability. They wish to pursue research specifically related to disability in order to provide a disabled person’s perspective, which much of the available research lacks. Read her winning creative writing piece below!

sinking into the sun

There once was a child.
They, like most children, had wings.

they couldn’t fly.
as a baby, no one expects you to fly.
but when the other tots are flapping their wings,
strong and mighty like an eagle
and one of yours just




unrelentingly still.

…your parents begin to wonder.

[you find out later it was an accident;
something happened before you were born,
and this is the result]

surgery. a cast. they’re supposed to help—yet you can feel the muscles withering underneath
the airless prison.

(it’s itchy, too.)

by the time you’re free, others have mastered basic flight.
physical therapy helps—you start to play with your peers
and, yeah, you might not be the most graceful. the fastest. the strongest.
you might wobble in the air and fall (a lot).
you might have to stretch your wings every night, even when you’d rather sleep.

but you can fly.

and it’s wonderful.

(icarus may have flown too close to the sun,
but you know better)

as you get older, your peers have been refining their flight.
sports, dance, working out to increase their wingspan.
and you look at your wings—
one is still noticeably smaller. it flops uselessly when you’re not using it but gets tight when you do.

but at least you can fly [functionally].

you end up trying anyway.
you try to play their games,
getting winded.
hearing the whispers fall like feathers, carried by a cold gust that knocks you down.
you try to dance with them,
stumbling instead of gliding.
the whispers thunder around you, too loud despite the distance.
you try to get stronger.
only to find you’re too weak to even do that.

(maybe icarus didn’t fly towards the sun. he flew to the moon
and died among the stars)

you always lose. or mess up the routine. or struggle to even do the most basic exercise.
and you hate yourself. hate them.
why do i have to try so much harder than they do?
you think. it’s unfair that they’re the standard and i have to fit into their rules and expectations and ideas.
so you give up. you find things that you are good at and enjoy.

but those things? they’re not flying.

(you always did love the stars. but now you get why they’re so far away,
in a place only dreams can reach).

you feel pride in standing out. even though you want to dance and are self-conscious about your wing. but it only hurts when you try to change the simple fact you’ve accepted.
you find others. those whose wings don’t work. those who don’t have wings.
and you feel guilty, like you’re faking the pain. the sadness. the anger. that they deserve to feel more than you.

because, after all, you can fly.

(the sun is so hot—yet they teach you that space is cold. empty.
and maybe you realize you didn’t make it even to the stars.)

everyone expects you to fly.
everything in society is for them—
the flyers.
and you can fit in just enough to live.
but if you want to survive,
you need to dive into the sea,
where icarus fell.



ears-popping and blood-bubbling.


where those who can’t fly show their true power.

There once was a child.
They, like most children, had wings.

they couldn’t fly.


they grew a tail and swam.


© Amber Olguin