My name is Zario

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My n a m e is


My n a m e is


Original story: Emile Smith

Adapted story: Gerda Brown, Robert Scott and

Dominic Brown

Editing: Keith Richmond

Illustration: Divan Joubert

Our story begins with 12-year-old Zario.

He lives on a farm with his mom and dad

as well as many farm animals.

Zario loves playing barefoot on the farm with his

puppy, Zigi. The green grass tickles his legs and feet

and makes him smile. His smile sparkles in the


Zario loves school, and his classroom has lots of

colourful pictures on the walls.

“We are not allowed to make noise in class.”

Zario shares his desk with his tall friend,

Brey. Their desk looks like a paintball field

because they love drawing cars and bugs on


Back at home, Zario looks in the mirror. He sees that

his tummy is sticking out and his shoulders are pulled

back. “What is happening?” Zario wonders.

He starts to look and feel different.

He also starts to fall a lot.

One day he falls at school. The

other kids surround him and


Zario feels very ashamed and starts crying but luckily

his good friend Brey comes to help him.

That afternoon when

Zario comes home he is

very sad and confused.

He tells his mom that he

had fallen at school and

that he couldn’t get back


His mom hugs him tightly

and says that they should

go to see the doctor.

Together Zario and his mom go to Hospital Hill to see

Doctor Thomas.

The doctor’s room looks like a science lab. Strange

calculations are written on the walls and it has lots of

strange objects all around.

Doctor Thomas tells Zario, “Don’t be afraid, I will help


The doctor does all sorts of strength

tests on Zario’s arms and legs. He

is asked to walk around and also to

sit down on the floor and stand up.

He also has to have his blood drawn

for Doctor Thomas to test. Zario is a

bit scared of the needle but his mom

holds his hand tightly.

Doctor Thomas tells Zario what he

has found. Zario has muscular


The doctor says: “Anyone can get

muscular dystrophy, and it is not

because you have done anything

wrong. Your muscles will get weaker

over time.”

Zario feels that muscular dystrophy is an alien inside his

body. The alien makes his muscles very tired and weak.

To help him move around, Zario is given a wheelchair

from the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.

Zario is happy that he doesn’t have to worry about

falling anymore.

The muscular dystrophy alien makes

Zario’s muscles weak. His hands and

arms cannot lift things anymore. He

has to use his wheelchair more

often too.

Bath time becomes very different

for Zario. At home, a bath lift hangs

over the bath so he can get in and

out more easily. Zario wants to bath

alone but his parents have to help him.

Zario’s school has stairs and he needs a ramp for his

wheelchair. So he has to go to a new school where he

can easily move around between the classrooms and

during break time. At the new school most of the other

children also have wheelchairs and some have


Zario settles in with his new friends. Some of

them also have muscular dystrophy. His new

friend, Yaya, has muscular dystrophy too.

Another new friend is

Remz, who is using a

wheelchair because he

had been in an accident.

The three friends love to spend

time under the shade of the big

trees drawing superheroes.

That night, while Zario is sleeping, something wakes

him up. He opens his eyes and sees something

amazing! The most beautiful fairy is shimmering in the

moonlight. His room is filled with all the colours of the


The fairy says: “I am from a world far

away called Green World. It is the

happiest place of all. The most

beautiful gardens grow there

and birds chirp the whole

day long. But the secret of

this amazing world is that

the big smiles of the people

living there keep the spirit of

Green World alive and make things

grow. Someone has stolen the

smiles and now our world lost its

colour and will surely die. Zario, we

need your help to find the stolen smiles

in Green World.”

Zario asks the fairy: “Why

have you chosen me? My

muscles are weak and I

am not strong enough to

be a hero.”

The fairy responds: “You

are uniquely created for

Green World because you

have a secret ability within

you. If you close your

eyes and think really hard,

you can make anything


Zario feels totally different.

He feels like the hero he

has always dreamt of being.

When he looks down he

sees that his pyjamas have

changed too! He is wearing

a green and white superhero

costume, and his hair has a

green stripe in it.

Zario now has another name

. . . Captain Muscles!

Zario looks around his room and sees that, amazingly,

the colour has gone, and he realises he is in Green

World. Everything is dark and grey because the smiles

have been stolen.

“Beware, young hero, for great evil dwells in Green

World,” the fairy says from above.

“I will save Green World by getting everyone’s smiles

back,” Captain Muscles replies.



Captain Muscles does not

know where the smiles are

hidden, so he closes his eyes

tightly and uses his power

of mind control to locate the

smiles. They are hidden away

by the evil villain known only

as “Dystroya”.

He arrives at Dystroya’s hideout. There are no

colours here and all is dark. The only thing he

can see is a dark hooded figure and a giant

cauldron filled with the stolen smiles.

Captain Muscles realises that the dark figure is Dystroya.

Dystroya yells: “I know you are here for the smiles. I

won’t let you have them!”

Again Captain Muscles closes his eyes tightly and

imagines the whole of Green World smiling.

Colours begin to shine throughout the darkness

and Dystroya begins to panic. He knows he is

losing his hold on Green World’s smiles. “I won’t

let you win!”

Captain Muscles replies: “Green World will never

stop smiling.”

Suddenly the cauldron begins to shake and finally it

bursts open. All the smiles escape and soar like

shooting stars across the sky. The smiles are in a great

hurry to return to their owners!

In no time at all, Green World begins to shimmer with

colour. Joy and harmony are restored.

Evil will never again enter Green World.

Now the smiles are here to stay, forever!

The next day at school, Zario sees all the children

smiling. He knows that he has saved the day.

If you set your mind to it, wonderful things are possible!

About the author

My name is Emile Smith, Meemo the

human fish. I’m 26 years old and I’ve been living with

Muscular Dystrophy for more then 15years. I ride in a

wheelchair sometimes, it’s nice to race in the streets

of Worcester. I’ve learned that you should never let

what you can’t do anymore stop you from what you

can do! I love writing, it’s therapy!

Zario’s name comes from the movie Rio, it’s sounds,

it’s colours and beautiful birds, Zario loves to fly

with birds chirping in the sky. Zario wants to tell you,

heroes are not perfect but heroes also use wheelchairs,

heroes struggle but heroes smile... You are a Zario!

A heartfelt thank you to FC Robb Charitable Trust for

donating the funding to make this book possible.



The Muscular Dystrophy Research Foundation of South Africa was

founded in 1974 by Mr and Mrs Newton Walker of Potchefstroom, who

at the time had a son affected with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

They felt there was a need to reach out to other parents and families

in a similar situation and also to support research into this disease with

the ultimate goal of finding a cure.

Today the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of South Africa (MDFSA)

is a registered non-profit organisation – Reg. No. 004-152 NPO –

consisting of a national office and three branches (Roodepoort, Cape

Town and Durban) which operate in the nine provinces of South Africa.

The mission of the Foundation is to support people affected by

muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular disorders and endeavour to

improve the quality of life of its members. We assist affected persons

and their families by providing access to international information

regarding specific dystrophies, workshops, support groups, referral

to genetic counselling and health facilities, and providing assistive

devices when funding is available. We also strive to keep our members

updated via the MDF website, Facebook page and in-house magazine.

National Office

12 Botes Street, Florida Park

Tel 011 472-9703

Website: www.mdsa.org.za

Facebook: Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of South Africa

Gauteng Branch (Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and

North West

12 Botes Street, Florida Park

Tel 011 472-9824

KZN Branch (KwaZulu-Natal and part of Eastern Cape)

Office 7, 24 Somtseu Road, Durban

Tel 031 332-0211

Cape Town Branch (Western Cape, Northern Cape and part of

Eastern Cape)

3 Wiener Street, Goodwood

Tel 021 592-7306

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