‘There is always a way’ - Shauna-Kay Douglas refuses to be defined by her disability
Visually impaired teacher, author and pastor Shauna-Kay Douglas says she will not be deterred by her disability because she has a purpose to fulfil. Douglas considers herself as an example of hope, and proof that amid the circumstances, one can rise above the challenges.
"My passion for living my purpose and impacting lives are what motivate me. It gives me great joy to instil hope in the lives of others. I aspire to inspire before I expire," Douglas told THE WEEKEND STAR.
Douglas, a past student of Church Teachers' College and Bethel Bible College of the Caribbean-Jamaica, also pastors at the Mount Providence New Testament Church of God in Clarendon. She is the author of a book, titled Poetic and E.P.I.C, which was released last July.
"E.P. I. C. stands for edifying, practical, inspiring, compelling," she explained. She attributes the book, which is a compilation of 55 poems, to her experiences with God, social life, and an arduous journey of discrimination.
"I spoke about aspects of my journey in the book as well. Coupled with my physical challenge, I have also been faced with losses, unemployment and other challenges. However, poetry allowed me to shift my focus and put things into perspective. As such, I decided to compile these poems in a book to help someone find value in the rubble, purpose despite the pain, clarity in the confusion and joy in the journey."
She added that she hopes her book brings cheer, motivates and teaches valuable lessons to readers.
"Based on the responses, the book is achieving such purpose and persons have concluded that it is truly EPIC and can be used in different settings on different occasions," said Douglas.
From teaching, preaching and making guest-speaker appearances, Douglas is adamant that her disability will not hurdle her determination to make an impact on the lives of others.
"I don't allow my challenges to stop me. Instead, I let them catapult me into my destiny," she said.
Douglas is extremely near-sighted, seeing about 60 per cent from one eye, and is virtually blind in the other. As a result, she memorises her speeches and sermons, and counts the steps at establishments that she visits for the first time.
"There is always a way. If you can't go above it, go below it. If you can't go below it, go through it. If you can't go through it, go around it. Whatever you do, never stop pursuing your dreams," a confident Douglas told THE WEEKEND STAR.
Kind gestures by her family, friends, and colleagues have been a ray of hope to the 30-year-old, but she lamented that there are others in society who make disparaging remarks about people with disabilities.
"The worst experience I have encountered is being discriminated against. Not all persons treat well with someone with a physical challenge. I think more support can be given to persons with disabilities," Douglas said.
"I have experienced mean comments and I can just imagine if those remarks were passed to someone who may not have the willpower to rise above such. It could crush their spirits and cause them to quit trying."
Speaking on the need for better support to people with disabilities, Douglas hopes more Jamaicans will adapt to the notion of inclusiveness where "our efforts will be valued".
Asked what advice she has for others with disabilities, Douglas said: "Once there is life, there is hope. The only person can stop you from achieving your dreams is you. Believe in yourself and let others catch up."