Teen with a Disability Adds Flag to Hall of Nations

Country flags on lockers in a school
Azat Toroev is part of the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program that has been including students with disabilities among its exchange scholarship recipients.

Azat Toroev jokes that he is happy if his classmates can find Kyrgyzstan on a map. Since he arrived in his host state of Colorado, he has been raising awareness of his native country while studying for a year at a U.S. high school. Toroev, who has cerebral palsy, has also increased his own self-awareness while in the United States.

At the start of the year, Toroev attended a Mobility International (USA) disability rights workshop in Eugene, Oregon, that motivated him and raised his confidence. He participated in outdoor team-building activities, adaptive cycling, community service, and discussions with U.S. peer mentors with disabilities. He realized from these experiences that,

“I am capable of overcoming my fears and doubts to challenge myself.” 

In his host city of Fort Collins, Colorado, Toroev has taken full advantage of his time to explore new activities, helping others in the process. Toroev volunteers as a student aide and informal peer counselor at his school’s counseling office. He joined the History Bowl and Mock Trial clubs and is on the wrestling team, something he never would have imagined himself doing before he came to the U.S.

Toroev even convinced his high school to include a Kyrgyz flag in their Hall of Nations. This gives him pride. “It is our turn to build the future,” he says about FLEX students and Kyrgyz youth with disabilities.

“Challenge ourselves to change not only our lives but the entire world!”