CARE & GIVING: Cortney’s Story — Part Seven

Fri 17 Mar 2023

CARE & GIVING: Cortney’s Story*

Cortney shares how the disability community has helped her daughter.

What's one thing you would like other parents of kids with cerebral palsy to know?

I would want other parents of kids with cerebral palsy to know that community is your and your child’s greatest asset, and you are your child’s greatest advocate. A couple of things have happened recently that really reinforced the value of community for me. First, coming in the fall semester of kindergarten, I asked ScarlettA little girl with light brown hair and blue eyes stands in the middle of the photo. She is wearing a black floral shirt, jeans, and pink and purple ankle and foot orthotics. Both her arms are in bright pink forearm cutches, and she looks very happy about it. A little boy is to the right in the frame. He is wearing jeans, bright yellow trainers, and a blue Superman vest over a gray shirt. He has the same light brown hair and blue eyes as the little girl, and his arm is supporting her. A woman in a white shirt, ripped jeans, and brown boots is also in the background supporting the girl. They are standing in front of a brown cabinet and a stack of blue and red nap mats. if she wanted to play a sport, take any kind of lessons, or participate in any activities outside of school. She wanted to do dance lessons, so we enrolled in classes at an inclusive dance school.

A few weeks into dance, her teacher asked if we would be interested in meeting and observing an older student who also dances with a walker, and we said, “Yes!” On the night we went to observe, I will never forget the moment they met. When they saw each other, using the exact same kind of walker, their faces lit up with the purest expressions of joy and mutual understanding. It was like they instantly bonded. 

About halfway through the lesson, our new friend brought out a pair of bright pink forearm crutches. Scarlett’s eyes got as round as saucers, and she looked at me and said, “Can I use crutches and can they be pink?” I told her that she would have to ask her physical therapist. The very next day, her therapist sent me a picture of Scarlett with a huge smile on her face, practicing with a pair of bright pink crutches. Scarlett advocated for herself because she was inspired by another little girl who, despite being a relative stranger, understood her better than I ever could. Community matters for our children because representation matters. Sometimes they need to see what is possible in others before they can see it in themselves. 

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*Cortney's story is part of CARE & GIVING. This series covers a few different aspects of the cerebral palsy community. It features the experiences of those who care about and for people with cerebral palsy, including parents and caregivers, therapists, paraprofessionals, and other allies. It also highlights donors who have made it their mission to move cerebral palsy forward, because care and giving go hand in hand.

The CARE & GIVING blog is intended solely to raise awareness about the varied human experience with cerebral palsy and shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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