Gracie’s Dad shares their story
When we first found out we were expecting twins, we were thrilled. We imagined them playing together freely and getting up to all sorts of fun. Gracie and Olivia arrived 12 weeks prematurely and it became apparent quite quickly that Gracie was not quite the same as her sister Olivia.
At six months old, Gracie was diagnosed with diplegic Cerebral Palsy (CP). The only part of her body that she can control some movement in is her arms. She has no mobility in her legs and her whole body is quite floppy because she doesn’t have much core stability.
While the girls were still young, it didn’t matter as much. Gracie’s condition wasn’t as obvious while they were both in a pushchair. But as they got older, things got harder. Olivia started to move around on her own, to crawl and then eventually walk. Meanwhile, Gracie was completely reliant on us to carry her and help her to play more easily with her sister.
At the beginning of last year, we went on a family day out to the zoo where we noticed a little boy having an amazing time in a red, powered wheelchair. In fact, we didn’t even know that it was a wheelchair at first glance. Later in the year, we went along to an event called Kidz South and Gracie was able to have her first go what we discovered to be a Wizzybug.
Her face completely lit up when she started to move around in it. We were completely shocked when we found out that we could get one free of charge through a loan scheme. It had become the norm to us that things were much more expensive as soon as the word ‘disability’ was involved.
We visited Designability in November to pick-up Gracie’s very own Wizzybug. It was the first bit of equipment that allowed our girls to play together without me having to be as hands on. She took to it straight away but it took a while to master the controls with our help since Gracie is also profoundly deaf.
Thanks to Wizzybug, Gracie is learning more and more about what she is capable of. It is such an amazing piece of equipment! She has gone from relying on me to be her ‘legs’, to playing out with Olivia independently.