Jade's story: Cerebral Palsy and living life to the fullest
Jade Heinstman has a lesson for us all with her approach to living with a disability and not letting it hold her back from reaching her goals.
Jade Heinstman, 12, lives with cerebral palsy and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, however this inspirational young lady is determined not to let her condition define her or stop her from doing the things she loves.
“A lot of people sit there and doubt me and think ‘you can’t do this because you’re in a chair’, well, actually, I can,” says Jade.
Jade loves being active and regularly enjoys swimming, horse riding and basketball despite her limited mobility. Jade also loves to let her competitive side out by taking part in fun runs.
“I like having a normal life like everybody else and when I do things like the fun runs it’s kind of my chance to show off in front of all my friends,” she says.
While Jade enjoys “showing off,” her parents relish Jade just being a part of something that she enjoys.
“It’s very rewarding to see your children participate and have fun in any activity,” says Amalie Heinstman, Jade’s mother.
“As parents we don’t focus on Jade’s disability, and what she can not do. We focus on how she can achieve and participate with her limitations.”
Like all children Jade has big dreams for her future and like many parents Jade’s family just want her to be happy.
“Jade has many goals and ambitions that she would love to achieve. As parents we can only support and guide Jade in achieving her desired goals and ensure she is happy with her decisions,” says Amalie.
Although still young, Jade has already achieved many notable goals. When a teacher at Jade’s school spotted her talent for art in Year 2, she nurtured Jade’s abilities. They ingeniously taped two pencils together to help with Jade’s grip and her artistic skills grew quickly.
One of Jade’s drawings entitled “Just A Person” was entered into the Young Archies art competition where an elated Jade was selected as a winner. Being represented along her peers was a breakthrough moment for Jade whose confidence was boosted.
“We are proud of both our children. It can be just as hard for any child to overcome fears and challenges without a disability,” Amalie tells.
“It’s all about how we approach life and how we choose to overcome the obstacles we are faced with in day to day life. We are extremely proud of Jade’s positive attitude that shines through the decisions she makes, overcoming any fear that she may have.”
Not only does Jade throw herself into physical and creative activities, she also takes steps towards teaching her classmates what it is like to live with a disability to bridge the gap of equality and understanding towards people who are different.
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In a speech addressing her school the brave young lady said -
“Lots of kids have said to me it must be great being in a wheel chair, but sometimes it’s not so great. I was born with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy affects the brain and my brain finds it hard to send messages to my feet making it harder for me to walk than other people.
But cerebral palsy doesn’t mean that I can’t do things. You may have seen me swimming at the pool like everybody else, as well as walking around the school in my walker. I can also walk really well in the pool because the water helps support me,” she said.
Later in her speech she went on to say-
“But don’t forget that just because I have a disability it doesn’t mean that I am a completely different person from everyone else. Just because I’m in a wheelchair it doesn’t mean that I have a different personality. A wheelchair is not a part of a personality.
Just like everyone else I like to spend time with my friends and talk about all the things we like and are interested in. I love to laugh and joke around and have fun.”
Jade’s zest for action and fun is certainly something to be inspired by, but her true revelation is her beautiful attitude.
“I just feel so proud of myself that I’ve achieved things without letting cerebral palsy let me down. It’s just really important to me and other people with a disability to live life to the fullest. And this also doesn’t just go out to disabled people, it goes out to everybody.”