By Cali Gall
Dublin Coffman High School, class of 2016
For anyone who's ever looked at someone in a weelchair and wondered, "What's their life like?"
Well, I can tell you first hand: It's not easy.
Hi, I'm Cali Gall. I'm just like any other 15 year old girl who's just started her freshman year at Dublin Coffman High School. I love the Hunger Games, hanging out with my friends, and doing everything teenage girls love to do. To me, Saturday night wouldn't be Saturday night without Saturday Night Live, and like many of you, I sat every day in Mrs. Taylor's room as a 6th grader.
So why would I know about life in a weelchair?
Simple, I'm in one.
My story began in June 1997. But it wasn't supposed to start until September 1997. I weighed in at 1 lb. 11 oz. I was the smallest baby most people, still to this day, have ever heard of. I was in the intensive care nursery until I was three months old (that's a long time, most kids get to go home at a few days old.)
Flash forward to just before my 1st birthday. My parents had noticed I wasn't walking yet, and just sitting up was a monumental struggle. So they took me to the doctor, where it was discovered after a brain scan, that I had Cerebral Palsy.
It turns out that I'm luckier then most. Only my legs and left hand are affected. Many people with CP can't talk, feed themselves, or are unable to be potty trained. But even though I'm thankful for being so high functioning, does that mean having CP still doesn't suck sometimes? Nope, still sucks sometimes.
Can I go over to my friends houses? Nope. They're not accessible.
Can I spend the night alone somewhere? Nope. Can't take myself to the bathroom.
Did it suck not being able to try out for the tennis team at school even though I desperately wanted (and still want) to? You bet.
So how can I still have a positive outlook? I owe that to my parents who have taught me that being different is not a bad thing but actually a good thing. They have chosen not to sugarcoat my disability, but rather work around it the best we can.
So, what do the kids that can't communicate, don't have parents like mine, what do they do? Well my friends, that is just what Mrs. Taylor and I want to fix. But we need YOU, so please, if you'd like to help, contact Mrs. Taylor with any questions you may have. Remember, we can only pull this off if we ALL work together.
Mrs. Taylor's note: Cali is one of the brightest, funniest, most thoughtful students I've ever had. She is passionate about advocating for other students who have disabilities but who can't share their stories like she can share hers. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to become an expert in a disability facing kids just like you; together, we can help Cali realize her dream of a Disabilities Fair and a kinder world for everyone.