How Sasha Star plans on inspiring people through her positivity – despite her disability.
By: El Broide
Life hasn’t always been easy for Johannesburg-born Sasha Star. Sasha was born with a form of muscular dystrophy called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Spinal Muscular Atrophy affects the body’s nervous system and is caused by a deficiency of a motor neuron protein called SMN, for ‘survival of motor neuron’. This means that people like Sasha have full sensation and function throughout her body but her muscles are extremely weak. This has confined her to a wheelchair with limited use of her hands and feet.
While growing up has not been easy for Sasha and her family, the 28-year-old has grown to accept her disability and has been set on a mission to prove that one can still live a full life despite it. “My muscle weakness means that I require assistance with even the most mundane tasks – getting dressed, placing food in my mouth, getting in and out of vehicles, and even scratching an itch. But, I am determined to always do my own make-up (especially winged eyeliner!) and prefer to type rather than use speech recognition software when writing. She adds that “Regardless of the physical impact, I have never let my condition prevent me from doing anything I set my mind on — be it work, travel, or especially going dancing. [My disability] also offers an opportunity to see the greatness of humanity when strangers offer to help by lifting my chair upstairs or even getting items off shelves that I can’t reach.”
Now, Sasha continues to be a beacon of hope for those she meets on a daily basis. Her message is simple – live life to the fullest, no matter what blows life has dealt you. “Life is what you make of it and I’m determined to make mine as incredible as I can — in spite of all the additional challenges I might face,” she says. “No one is ever going to have a perfect life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a life that you’re proud to have lived.”
By day, Sasha is a newsreader at Chai FM and a freelance writer. She wakes up every morning, goes into the office, compiles and reads the news, attends industry events and has never let her disability stop her reaching her goals. However, there are still many difficulties Sasha faces on a daily basis. “It is disappointing to see how many places in 2018 are still not wheelchair accessible. And that includes simple things like credit card machines in stores not being reachable for me to insert my PIN,” Sasha explains. “I also find that people sometimes address whomever I am with as opposed to me, or talk about me in front of me as though I can’t speak for myself.”
But, while Sasha understands just how difficult life is, her positive attitude has brought meaning into her life. She hopes to inspire. Not only does she wow those around her with her sharp wit, spontaneity, positivity and determination to live life to the fullest on a daily basis, but she hopes that her story will inspire every day South Africans, which is why she has started doing motivational talks.
“I love engaging with people and I realise that I have an ability to spread positivity as well as education simply because of the situation I’m in,” Sasha explains. “Those I speak to can expect lots of humour, crazy stories about living life on wheels, and hopefully coming to the realisation that we all have the power to exceed our limitations.”
The Henry David Thoreau quote “It’s not what you look at that matters, but what you see” is exactly the kind of message Sasha hopes to share through her talks. “To me that means that no matter how bad a situation may be, if you can find one positive aspect in it, it was not a wasted experience. Never examine a situation at face value. And always smile.”