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To the Child Who Just Got Your First Wheelchair

To the child who just got your first wheelchair: congratulations, you have now taken a step you need to succeed in life with cerebral palsy. It’s exciting, isn’t it? I remember when I got my first wheelchair: it was small, the footrest handles were hot pink and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever to be sitting in a wheelchair — something my physical therapist and teachers had been talking about for a while.

I remember going through the process of getting measurements, picking out the colors and discussing what I was going to need the wheelchair for. We went through all the ins and outs of how to use and maintain it.

I remember the first time I ever set my wheelchair as a young child. I thought, “How awesome!” but I think that was the first time I realized I was different from everybody else. I couldn’t comprehend it. I was nonchalant about it to others, explaining I used the chair to get around.

Having a wheelchair has its pros and cons in life. For example: when you’re playing musical chairs with your friends and the music stops, you never have to worry about having a seat because you are already sitting down. Or when I had to do laps around the track in school I could just have someone push me. Another fun pro about having a wheelchair is you can go to Universal Studios and get on every ride first. I mostly love going on the Harry Potter rides, especially “The Forbidden Journey.”

But my favorite thing about being in a wheelchair is when people come up to me wanting to know “the story” of what caused me to be in the wheelchair. It’s a rewarding feeling to know I taught someone about a disability they probably have never heard of.

I’ve experienced some negatives, too — like  the fact that some people may not treat me like a regular person or as an adult. This is the worst feeling in the world to me. I experienced discrimination as an adult. Some people automatically stereotype me because of my appearance.

You have to prove yourself consistently when living with a condition such as cerebral palsy, but other than that, it’s fantastic having a wheelchair since over time it can become a part of you. But don’t let that define who you are because you are your own human being with your own story. You could be a champion regardless of how people may treat you in society, so just keep on going with the smile I know you have — especially that excited smile from the day you got your first wheelchair.

Getty image by Wavebreakmedia

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