Hi everyone! I’m Libby Riggs, and this is the Perceptions podcast!
Today, I will be discussing two incredible young members of our community. This podcast section will be focused on Zehn Kashyap, a 14 year old student from India. Zehn is a published, award winning poet and international speaker who celebrates and embraces difference. Through her poems and other works, Zehn exemplifies how the arts are a powerful way to open conversation and destigmatize disability.
Zehn- “So, over the last 1 year, I made a very conscious effort to seek opportunities to amplify and to continue to advocate and drive programs around destigmatizing disability, mental health and girl and women rights - specifically in the context of disability.”
As someone who has a form of cerebral palsy, she believes, with great passion, that honest dialogue is key to understanding and appreciating the depth of the disability experience.
Also, the support of her family and community has helped her develop as a leader. Through this support and her various experiences, she has learned to comprehend and value the true strength of 'differentness'.
Zehn- “See, in my opinion, through generations of conditioning, we, as a society have arrived at the rampantly prevalent definition of what is normal and what is not. However, in doing so, we often ignore the power that ‘differentness’ bestows upon us. Also, I feel that when it comes to normalizing differentness, it is imperative that we start sensitizing and normalizing differentness early in the life of children– and what better way to do that than poetry?”
When asked about her thoughts on the Neil Markus quote found on the homepage of our website, Zehn says that, “I think that Neil Marcus’s statement is very profound and thought provoking and yet very practical and grounded in reality too. I believe that my disability has simply and deeply shaped me as an individual. It has allowed me to have deeper, more meaningful conversations and forge bonds -hopefully for life- with many people.”