Having the courage to speak up can be almost impossible, and having the courage to do so for the first time can be even harder. Creating a better world for children with disabilities can be like moving a mountain, but with every step, we see a difference, and we certainly won’t stop trying!
Imagine being a parent trying to create a sense of “normalcy” for your CP child, but being unable to take part in so many of the activities and events that they dream of taking part in. So many CP families feel isolated and alone, and fear that there is no safe or comfortable way to explore the world with their CP child. That isolation is not only terrible for their mental health, but it prevents them from becoming part of the broader community, one that offers them the support they desperately need.
Recently, we shared a video of young Maddie Fragner delivering a powerful speech to more than 100 sixth graders, explaining what CP is, and how it affects her life. Seeing Maddie, at just 12-years-old, stand up so boldly inspired many, including Rachel Bachert-Osborn. Her daughter, Annalynn, is 6-years-old and has CP. Rachel shared Maddie’s video with her daughter, and reached out to tell us how much seeing Maddie speak out meant to them both.
“My mom just shared Maddie’s speech with me and I in turn shared it with my 6 year old Annalynn. Annalynn was born at 34 weeks and needed to be resuscitated at birth. At 6 months she then experienced a rare seizure disorder called infantile spasms. It caused a wide spread seizure across her entire brain and almost killed her. But Annalynn defied the odds.
It has been a very long road, but my husband and I try to raise her to be confident and advocate for herself and others. This year, when she entered 1st grade, we pushed for her to be in a general education class. Her amazing teacher asked her if it would be ok for some of her classmates to ask her questions about her walker. I got an email that afternoon telling me how it went, how Annalynn told her class about CP with so much confidence. It made every adult in the room cry and gave them all a better understanding of my sweet, remarkable girl. She and Maddie and all kids like them are truly gifts to this world.
When I showed Annalynn Maddie’s speech she listened intently. Then when it was done she smiled and said “mom, that girl is special like me.” Now as I type this I am listening to her “practicing” her speech using some of the verbiage Maddie used to explain her CP. She has been inspired, and now wants to give a speech to her school like Maddie did.
Thank you for raising a smart, beautiful and charismatic girl. Cheering you on Maddie from Alaska- in Annalynns words ‘keep being awesome!’”
There is nothing more uplifting than hearing from CP families, and we hope that you’ll share your stories with us too!
Thank you Annalynn for being such an inspiration, and we can’t wait to see what you do in the future!