Turkish paralympians Abdullah Ozturk and his brother Ali say the disabled should learn to survive by themselves in society.
Turkish Paralympian brothers on Sunday encourage disabled people to become more able to live their lives independent of their parents.
The world is celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, a day first proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations.
Abdullah Ozturk won a gold medal in table tennis in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and was crowned with the Men’s Singles Class 4 title.
Now serving as a coach for future Paralympians, Ozturk has adopted a principle in his teaching: To implant the idea of living independently.
“The first thing we teach our athletes is to meet their own needs independent of their parents,” said the 28-year-old former gold medalist.
“Disabled people should learn to survive by themselves,” he added.
Describing table tennis as the “center” of his life, Ozturk said he owed everything he has - including his education, job, and standard of living - to the sport.
“We have to be active in something to show that we can exist independently in society. We need to stand on our own two feet,” he said.
He encourages the disabled, regardless of the level of their disability, to take part in life fully.
“Never give up, set a goal, and follow it,” he urged.
Today, more than one billion people or some 15 percent of world's population, live with some form of disability, according to the UN.
The annual observance of the international day aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.
"I don’t see myself as disabled"
In 2017, the UN is marking the day with the theme of “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all.”
Ali Ozturk, Abdullah’s brother, also a Paralympian, won a gold medal in table tennis with his teammate Nesim Turan, at the 2016 Lignano Master Open in Italy.
The 24-year-old European champion also won a bronze medal in Rio along with his teammate Nesim Turan.
He stressed that parents should prompt urge their children to engage in whatever activity strikes their fancy, including art, dancing, and sports.
He dismisses the label “disabled,” saying: “It doesn’t count for me. I don’t see myself as disabled,” said Ozturk, citing his ability to do everything a non-disabled person can.
Calling sports “essential” for disabled people, the younger Ozturk said it is a way to engage with society, which sometimes keep disabled people at a distance.
The champion brothers vowed to strive to win more medals.