Maria Menshenina
24 y.o, ICP (infantile cerebral paralysis)

When I was three months old, my parents noticed that I hold all things in one of my hands. It appeared that it was due to a stroke I survived. My right arm and leg almost stopped functioning.

The whole family tried to set me on my feet. My mom was always pushing me forward. She didn’t allow me to feel pity for myself, even when I was very young. Once in the kindergarten she was asked why she wouldn’t help me put on my clothes. She responded: “Who will help her, when I’m not around?”

I attended an ordinary school, communicated with healthy fellows and tried to be up there with them. They bullied me, were waiting around for me after classes, and called names. I always felt like an odd bird. It was tough also because the teachers felt sorry for me. It was awful.

You don’t need to have pity for someone. Pity may belittle a person. It may as well weaken a person, making him used to excessive attention and special treatment. You’d better say: “You are strong. You can do it all – go and live your life!” My disease molded my character.

When you fall in love for the first time and realize that your beloved one accepts you just as you are, irrespective of your peculiarities, you see things from a different angle.

Beauty is not only about appearance. The older you get, the more you realize that beauty is about inner side.  You may be really beautiful from the outside, but empty from the inside. Some people are so strong despite their terrible diseases that they delight and inspire notwithstanding their appearance.

Beauty does have its own limits. However, what is the most important is kindlness towards others. Ability to share your glow, your smile in a moment when it is required – this is what really matters.


I never regretted about the way I was born. If I hadn’t had ICP, I wouldn’t have experienced many great things. Each person has its own way and his own experience. I am happy with my life and would like all people to feel the same.