January 2012 #1: Ilyaz Mapara

Saying prayers in mosque in front of hundreds of people, flying planes up high in the sky, and partaking in tae kwon do. These are just a few of the wonderful achievements that 16 year old Ilyaz Mapara has been able to accomplish; all the while overcoming the barriers that autism has attempted to put in his way.

Since the day Ilyaz was born, he wasn’t able to see things in the conventional ways that most of us can, because he was born completely blind. However, that gave his other senses a chance to shine and Ilyaz has not let the lack of one sense put a cramp in his style to say the least. Many of us would fear learning to fly a plane but someone who has it harder has taken a bigger step than most of us ever would. On top of having a mere passion to fly a plane, he has pursued his passion and does in fact fly planes, while being blind, with the aid of a co-pilot telling him where to turn and what to do. Ilyaz says it best, “I don’t let autism affect me, I just go with the flow.” He has made a conscious effort of not letting such a barrier get in his way. Furthermore, with that being said, Ilyaz intends to be a pilot some day in the future, and with his ambition and courage there is no doubt he will fulfill his dream!

Now looking further into the life of this inspiring young man, it’s impressive how motivated and optimistic he is no matter what he is doing. Take tae kwon do for example! I’ve always wanted to try it out but feared getting my butt kicked! Nonetheless, here is Ilyaz, not even able to physically see his opponent, his master, or anyone around him, but he jumps onto that mat fearlessly each time and follows special instruction and conducts his moves. So, Ilyaz also shows us that each day he is helped by others to fulfill his dreams and continue with his life goals. If not for the support of his tae kwon do master, it would be difficult to know what is happening. He humbly accepts the love and support of his family, friends, and teachers and reminds us that it is okay to take a little help along the way to the top!

So, when looking at Ilyaz you shouldn’t just see a guy who was born with a few road blocks put in place for him. Rather, you see a courageous young man who isn’t willing to let anything get in the way of his dreams. He reminds us to live in the present and don’t ask what’s coming tomorrow!

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About Zahra Premji

Her headphones in, music blasting, and of course groovin' to the beat of the day literally no matter where she is! This is how you'll find Zahra on most days, whether it be while writing papers or bungee jumping. Adventurous and spontaneous are probably the best words that describe her and her lust for travel and discovery from Australia to Africa. Zahra loves what she does because she enjoys digging up the facts and using her voice to tell the stories that may not be heard otherwise. Considering she is just about done her Major in Communications at SFU she hopes to make her dreams a reality and take the steps towards becoming a Television Broadcaster.

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