Jamaica Estates resident overcoming cerebral palsy to pursue dream in graphic design

cerebral palsy
Photo courtesy of Sideiq Yar.

Jamaica Estates resident Sideiq Yar has been living his dream career in the field of graphic design at iBrain for over a year. Despite being diagnosed with the physical disability cerebral palsy, which affects muscle coordination in his arms, legs and speech, Yar has managed to excel in his line of work.

More than 17 million people around the world have cerebral palsy. Each case is unique and each individual experiences different motor impairments and associative conditions.

Yar said many people fail to realize that those with cerebral palsy are just like everyone else. While those with cerebral palsy may require assistance with certain individual needs, many feel as though they don’t really have any limitations in life.

cerebral palsy
Sideiq Yar now works in the graphic design field for the nonprofit organization iBrain. (Photo courtesy of Sideiq Yar)

According to Yar, his passion for graphic design came to be at a young age. He’d often watch his uncle, an artist, paint and was always fascinated by colors and seeing how things worked. His uncle eventually began getting into graphic design and Yar fell in love with it as soon as he saw his uncle working on creating a sign for a store.

After earning his bachelor’s degree at Queens College, Yar struggled for a few years to find work due to his disability. He spent some time working in freelance as a web developer for a local private school. Eventually, a friend of his came across a job post by iBrain and discovered they would be interested in bringing in people with physical disabilities like cerebral palsy to work for them. Yar’s friend encouraged him to apply and he ended up getting the job.

“iBrain’s hiring process was different and more open-minded to my condition because of my graphic design talent and portfolio that I presented,” Yar said. “More companies need to realize that people with my condition still can be hardworking employees who get the job done efficiently. Doing my job with my condition does make it harder, but that shows my ultimate dedication to my work.”

cerebral palsy
Sideiq Yar working at his desk (Photo courtesy of Sideiq Yar)

Yar controls the computer system he works on with his feet and toes. The system also features an oversized keyboard and trackball to help him better control it.

According to Yar, he has spent a lot of his time at iBrain working closely with the organization’s founder and CEO, Patrick Donohue. He’s worked on creating new branding and designs for many of Donohue’s initiatives while also providing support for some of Donohue’s other independent projects. Some of this work includes creating business cards, infographics and letterheads.

The main responsibilities for Yar at iBrain include overseeing the website updates, infographics, branding and short animation videos. He’s been able to overcome his limitations from cerebral palsy to meet all the tight deadlines under which he operates.

“I feel that the work iBrain is doing for the disabled community is wonderful and growing at a very fast pace,” Yar said. “Over the year, I’ve seen Patrick [Donohue] handle several new ideas and execute them in a way that is admirable. He’s an incredible man with a great heart.”

The nonprofit iBrain develops and implements special education and related services for students with brain injury and brain-based disorders, including cerebral palsy. The organization has quickly grown from just a handful of students in the beginning. By the time Yar joined iBrain, he estimated there were 20 to 30 students. Today, he said there are over 60. These students range from 5 to 21 years of age. Yar credits the institute’s welcoming atmosphere for its rapid growth.

“Patrick has created a safe academy for disabled students to learn and trust while receiving several therapeutic activities,” Yar said. “We have so much in the making that I’ve been helping on. It is an exciting time and I’m looking forward to what is ahead!”

Yar encourages others with cerebral palsy or any other disability to not give up on pursuing their dreams.

“Find people around you that support and positively care about you,” Yar said. “Just because our brains work differently than others, it does not mean that it is a bad thing or something to look down upon. Keep working hard and find a passion to focus on. You can do it if you set your mind to it.”