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Meet CNN Hero Jeison Aristizabal Who's Redefining 'Disabled' in Colombia

Laura Klairmont - CNN
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July 1, 2016
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CNN Hero: Since 2001, Jeison Aristizabal has dedicated his life to giving thousands of young people with disabilities 'like himself' a brighter future in Colombia. (CNN)

As a young man with cerebral palsy, Jeison Aristizábal has fought his entire life to overcome the obstacles in his way.

"When I was a young boy, a doctor told my mom that I would amount to nothing," said Aristizábal, who grew up in one of the poorest areas in Cali, Colombia.

His family provided the support he needed to live an independent life. But early on he realized there were thousands of children with physical and cognitive disabilities in his community who weren't as lucky.

"Many families ... are misinformed. They think that it's God's punishment," said Aristizábal, 32. "There are children who spend years in bed ... because their families don't know how to care for them."

For the last 15 years, Aristizábal has been working to change perceptions and give young people with disabilities a brighter future.

His nonprofit, ASODISVALLE (an acronym that translates to Association of Disabled People of the Valley), offers a range of services that have helped transform the lives of nearly 3,000 young people and their families - all for free.

CNN's Laura Klairmont spoke with Aristizábal about his work. Below is an edited and translated version of their conversation.

Read the rest at CNN

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