It's hard to tell that Brian Amarello has faced discrimination and harassment through most of his life as he makes the entire gym at Delhi District Secondary School erupt into laughter.
Amarello, a social worker with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, spoke to the student body at DDSS on April 10 to celebrate Day of Pink, an international day against bullying and discrimination.
A week after Amarello was born, he suffered a seizure, which left him with cerebral palsy.
He told the sea of students dressed in pink that his parents were told not to expect much from him as a human being. He has defied their assumptions but the hurdles did not stop there.
Amarello was bullied relentlessly throughout elementary school. It reached its peak when he was in Grade 6.
While the bullying stopped after, it was replaced by a deafening silence when he was ignore by his classmates until he reached high school.
He found solace in two workers assigned to help him use the restroom.
“I like to think that washroom 101 as the place I got rid of all my crap,” he said.
Hardship followed him again with the death of his father. Shortly after, Amarello had surgery to reverse the affects of scoliosis, which led to an addiction to pain killers and a struggle with depression.
He contemplated suicide, and even drove his wheelchair to a hill he planned to lunge himself off but a gust of wind stopped him, he said.
In that moment he discovered, “We are never even almost alone. Someone out there is watching our backs,” he said. “Of course things got better after that – what kind of motivational speech would this be if it didn't?”
He was soon recruited to say a speech for the teachers at his school and then for the entire student body. He realized it was his calling.
He recalled his father telling him before he died: “'The day will come one day when you will speak for others that cannot speak for themselves,' he said. I think it gave a voice to all those people that suffered in silence with me.”
“This is my form of therapy.”
Amarello struggled again in university to make friends until he found his passion for social work and began the eight-year journey to receiving his diploma from McMaster University.
“It's taken me a long, long time to get to this place but I'm finally at a place where I'm not angry anymore,” he said.
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