Family members said “achieving one’s dream against the odds” fittingly describes Atiba Clarke, a 20-year-old student at LaGuardia Community College . Clarke was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (a neurological condition that cause physical disability in human development) at birth and has launched his book “Unexpected Words from a Gifted Angel,” on October 12 in Brooklyn. He wanted to use this medium to tell people about his life and journey in not allowing his physical limitations to hamper his dream to become a psychologist.
“I’m not allowing my condition to get me down,” said Clarke, who will undergo his seventeenth surgery in November to help reduce the physical and mental effects the disorder has on him. “In life you’re going to get good and bad. My family supports me, so I have nothing to worry about,” he added.
Clarke was born to Caribbean immigrants, both of whom are from Trinidad and Tobago. He was lauded by his mother, relatives and friends at his book launch, including his friends that are also physically challenged and confined to wheelchairs like him.
Through the celebrations of his most recent accomplishment, however, Clarke says he continues to mourn the passing of his father.
“I just wish he was here to witness this moment,” said Clarke, who has loss of his father last September.
The moment of celebration then went into an eerie of silence, as emotion poured as
Clark’s sister, Carlene Greig, 29, congratulated him for publishing a book despite his limitations and loss. This was the first time they’ve ever meet each other in person, after years of communicating through social media.
“He’s always been a gem to me because of his situation. In all his pictures, I always see him smiling no matter what,” the emotional sister said. “When I see people complain about minor things and I look at him, I know we can get through anything,” she added.
Tyrell Eddy, who also has physical limitation and has been friends with Clarke since high school, said he is appreciative to the fact that he [Clarke] his telling a story from the point of view of a disabled person.
“I think this is a big step for him. To see him write a book and show it like this is a great thing. It let people know about our disability and that where here. It also let him [Clarke] know that he’s a strong and brave person despite what he’s going through.
Clark will continue his studies at LaGuardia in Spring of next year, after taking a semester off to finish his book.
Asked what he hope readers will get from the literature, Clarke said, “I just wanted to use my situation as an example to show people that they overcome their fears.” He also hopes he could possibly get a house for him and his mother from book.
Through his book, Clarke was able to meet his longtime idol, Beyonce, last summer at Barclays Center. His book is also being featured on her website.
“Unexpected Words from a Gifted Angel” is avaliable on tatepublishing.com and amazon for $8.99