Lia was born with Cerebral palsy and her twin brother wasn’t. Yet the determined Aussie hasn’t let anything stop her from achieving her dreams.
While the 21-year-old uses a powered wheelchair to get around normally, Lia put in hours upon hours of extra training and was able to stand up out of her chair to walk into her Year 10 school formal, and just a few years later, make it up Mt Kosciuszko.
“Growing up with Cerebral palsy definitely has its challenges,” Lia tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “When I was young it was difficult to see other kids doing everyday things that I couldn’t do.”
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture and can vary in severity. Lia says it can cause muscle spasms and pain but still considers herself lucky.
“I am lucky that I am able to communicate and move with assistance with my walking frame and power wheelchair,” she tells us.
But she’s still had plenty of obstacles to overcome.
“I have had multiple surgeries to improve my range of movement to help me with day to day life,” she explains.
“Lots of physiotherapy, occupational therapy through the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and numerous appointments for wheelchair and other equipment to support me to live the best life as independently as possible.”
When she was a teenager, Lia told her twin brother she’s had a dream in which she was walking. And so she decided to make walking into her school formal her big goal.
“In the beginning I was quite nervous and scared about the goal we had set because I was not sure I could do it,” Lia admits.
“The more I thought about it I realised it would be a great way to show my teachers, friends and family what I had been working so hard to achieve.”
She worked hard with her Exercise Physiologist Ange in the months leading up, and says she will never forget the incredible moment everything fell into place.
“It was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life,” she recalls.
“There was hours and hours of exercise sessions involved, lots of hard work but with the support of Ange and my family and friends encouraging me every step of the way.
“I will never forget that day when I saw the look on my family and friends faces when they realised what I was about to do, all the hard work and effort had paid off and we were able to enjoy the moment and celebrate what an achievement this was.”
Watch: Lia walk into her Year 10 formal after months of hard work
Lia loves being active to “challenge herself” and is involved in a bunch of different wheelchair sports, including tennis and netball. And she loves cheering on her mighty Sydney Roosters in the NRL.
“I also have been skiing in a sit ski which was an amazing experience, and have been indoor sky diving,” she tells us.
“I just want to show people that just because you have a disability it doesn’t mean you can’t do everything that everyone else can do. You just need a bit of extra help to achieve your goals.”
Having ticked her school formal off her list, Lia set herself a new goal - climbing Mt Kosciuszko. Something she achieved in February 2019.
“It was an amazing experience that I was lucky enough to partake in with my current Exercise Physiologist Lauren,” Lia says.
Getting to where she is today is all thanks to her determination, but Lia also credits her incredible support network, saying her family and friends, and assistance from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance has made all the difference.
“I have many family and friends to support me to achieve my goals as independently as possible,” she says, adding it’s her key message to other young people who might be living with a disability.
“Be around people who are going to support you and encourage you and bring the best out of you and help you focus on your ability not your disability,” she says.
“Your disability is something you have not something you are.”