written by Justin Phillip Gonzales (participant to USA)
After returning home, I have worked on accomplishing not only for me but also to bring the honor and pride to my school and my home country. I decided that was time to encourage many Deaf students to apply for YES Program that can have a biggest impact on them. Few months ago, my teacher asked me if I could join the National IT challenge and told me that I would be able to represent our country in India that would challenge many youths with disabilities from 18 countries including UAE, UK and South Korea. At first, I was hesitant to join due to a personal reason but my YES experiences reminded me that I was made to prove that I am strong and should be proud of who I am after a lot of challenges I’ve been through. I decided to proceed and eventually won the National IT Challenge, I was able to represent the Philippines and our team members were able to bring 5 medals (2 golds, 2 silvers and 1 bronze) to the Philippines. Not only it was about challenging people but it challenged us to overcome our disabilities and find our hidden skills. Despite being Deaf, I believe that no disabilities will hinder us for making us stronger and proud of who we are. Despite having a disability, no one will be left behind for we are empowered ones that will face a lot of challenges in life and eventually overcome them.