Athletes of the Spirit:

An Exploration of Disability

through Art and Writing

Rosalio's Dream House


30" x 22" $2,100.00

Rosalio Jimenez, 17 years old,

Oakland, California, USA

I met Rosalio at the Center for Independent

Living (CIL) in Berkeley. He was very interested

in discussing his life with me. Although he was

born with muscular dystrophy, a degenerative

disease affecting muscle control, the signs of

his disease only became apparent when he

was six years old. While he was walking, his legs

would collapse on him without warning, causing him to fall on the sidewalk or street. He had to start using a walker at first, but by the age of twelve his muscles had degenerated to the point where he needed to use a wheelchair often. From the age of thirteen to the time of this interview, Rosalio has relied on his motorized wheelchair for getting around.

Rosalio was teased by children when he was growing up. He believes that might have not been the case if children at his school had been fortunate

enough to meet people who had various disabilities. His idea is to invite people with varying disabilities to an elementary school once a week or

once a month to share their lives with the children. That way children growing up now will have more understanding of the real lives that people

with disabilities lead. Even now, while attending a high school that is for the most part supportive and sensitive to his needs, Rosalio occasionally

runs into people who tease him because they are insecure.

When Rosalio was in elementary school and middle school, his life was much different from his life after he switched to Skyline High School. Up

until he switched during the 10th grade, the schools paid little attention to his needs. The bathrooms didn't accommodate someone who used a wheelchair, and the teachers wouldn't let him play any sports school. Rosalio became very depressed.

At Skyline, however, Rosalio's spirit picked up. He participated t-ball,  using a velcro mitt and soft nerf ball so he wouldn't risk getting hurt. He also took up piano. Although the muscles in his arms are weak he can reach the keys are leaning forward and he plays fairly well. His interest in art and the support from the school has influenced his desire to know more about architecture. He wishes that architects would design living spaces perfectly suited to people with disabilities. This way, he would be able to visit his friend's whose houses are not accessible.

In general, Rosalio has a happy life. Art and dance are his loves. He draws almost every day and dances by spinning his wheelchair or by moving

to music while in the swimming pool. Often he goes to the mall with his friends where he sees movies and socializes.

To set Rosalio's dream have to motion, I took a lesson in axiometric perspective. This type of planning allows the viewer to take a birds eye view

into the house. I have included in this drawing all of the elements that Rosalio feels would make a home ideal for him and his friends who have disabilities. The home where he lives now only has a few of the features he wants to give his ideal home, yet he is, above all, appreciative of his family's love and support. If this dream ever does come true, he will share his joy first and foremost with is family, who is with him all the way. Let's hope that one day this dream house will be where Rosalio lives.

Painting Sequence

Rosalio's wish is to move from his current home (upper left) into his dream home (upper right).  Attractive and practical features Rosalio has chosen for himself and others who use a wheelchair are represented below:

  • Automatic front doors
  • Easy access to irrigation hoses for front lawn
  • Appliances in kitchen built low to the ground
  • Lift for bathroom facilities
  • Wheelchair accessible shower having no ledge at entrance
  • Beautiful hard wood floors with no rugs
  • Ample space
  • Adjustable Desk in living room for any wheelchair height
  • Indoor pool with easy access ramp

Rosalio's Journey Through Disability

I was born normal, but when I was a year and a half old my mom found out that I couldn't move as well as the other babies. She took me to the doctor. That's when my mom found out that I had Muscular Dystrophy. My mom was sad about what I had; she would cry and feel bad. The

doctors thought that I also had a minor retardation problem, so I went to a special school, Ralph Bunche in Oakland. I learned very little in that school, only how to eat properly. My mom knew that I wasn't learning because in my sister's school the teacher would teach students how to

count numbers and how to use simple math concepts. Not until somebody told my mom to get me out of that school did my mom take me to

a regular school, Lazear Elementary, where I was supposed to be in second grade. But they held me one year behind because I didn't know how

to read, write, or subtract numbers.

After six years I graduated from sixth grade at Lazear Elementary, where I had to say goodbye to all my friends. I also learned that I have to find friends all the time, and that is part of growing up. When I got to my new school, Westlake Jr. High, I was scared because I knew nobody in that school and I didn't want them to know that I was disabled. I used to get mad about being disabled, even now.  I started to apply myself and im-

prove my schoolwork and improve until I made it to a 4.0 average. When I learned more about my disability  when I went to summer camp

this year where I met a lot of disabled people with the same disability. I found out that all disabled people act like regular teenagers, and have

the same tastes, only with a disability,