Disability is no barrier to success

The Star's report on Zhao Qian attending her first day of school in January 2010.

ALOR SETAR, Malaysia - She has no arms, her legs are atrophied and only the toes on her right foot to grip a pencil had seen her through primary school life.

Yet against all odds, a cheery Ooi Zhao Qian, 12, passed her UPSR examinations.

"I want to be a lawyer and help people in need, just like my aunt," said the spritely student from SJK(C) Soon Cheng in Bukit Pinang near here.

Zhao Qian got 3Bs, 3Cs and a D, and though she scored no As, she was still jubilant and looking forward to her next phase in secondary school.

It was a heart-warming scene at the school. Her doting classmates wheeled her to the hall to get her results slip, and then helped her with her snacks and drinks.

Five years ago, The Star featured Ooi when she was a shy little tot on her first day in primary school. She had weighed only 10.5kg and her unique wheelchair was a lot smaller then.

"My mother taught me to write with my right foot when I was two years old.

"I can also fold my clothes, sweep the floor, make phone calls, open my schoolbag, play congkak and even surf the net with my feet.

"But I hope to be enrolled into a secondary school near my home because I don't want to burden my mother who has to drive me to school every day," she said.

Zhao Qian has no shortage of love and care from her family and friends.

Her grandfather and uncle built a unique wheelchair which allows her to push herself forward with her feet since she was four.

Her grand-aunt had fashioned her school uniform to fit her limbless upper torso.

Every schoolmate would jump to help push her up into the computer lab or library.

"I don't feel different from other people at all. I can achieve whatever I set my mind to," Zhao Qian smiled.

Her mother Lee Ai Hoon, 38, was delighted and said what mattered was that Zhao Qian had given her best.

Headmaster Tan Hai Peng said Zhao Qian was the school's pride and she inspired many students to improve themselves.

"Success or failure is not based on our physical state but on our hearts and minds.

"Zhao Qian accepts herself for who she is. She adapts to her surroundings, and that gives her special confidence," Tan said.

Some 33,626 pupils from 571 examination centres sat for UPSR in Kedah where 2,978 of them scored all A's.

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