Five-year-old Alessandra loves ice cream, chocolate, and anything sweet. She also adores the colours pink, blue, red, and purple, but isn’t too fond of brown or gray. Bike rides, dancing and singing in her school’s Glee Club, and her sister also put a smile on her face.
As for her mother, Jolane, one of her favourite smiles is the one Alessandra showed on her recent kindergarten photo for Picture Day.
“The year before, she was so shy, and just absolutely refused to have her picture taken. Maybe it’s silly for some people, but for me, the picture this year just made me so happy,” says Jolane.
“It’s like when I remember the first time she sat up on her own, I was crying I was so happy. Or when she first started crawling on her own or, when I first saw video of her riding a bike. Those were big deals as well.”
For five-year-old Alessandra, who was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, it almost seemed like zooming around on her bike—with a pink seat and carrier for her doll, Alessandra adds—would only be a dream.
But thanks to Holland Bloorview’s physiotherapy services, social work services, the hypertonia clinic, and developmental pediatricians, that dream for Alessandra and Jolane is now a reality.
Before getting help, Alessandra couldn’t walk.
Now, after finding her footing, it’s no surprise Alessandra is always on the go—with her sights set on tackling some winter activities this year.
“When people see her in a wheelchair or with a walker, they’re already making this assumption that because she can’t walk on her own, there must be other things she can’t do,” says Jolane.
“She definitely wants people to know that she wants to do things on her own – she’s very independent.”
And as for why Jolane continues to participate in Capes for Kids, she believes campaigns like this help Alessandra—and kids like her—do just that.
“Kids with disabilities want to just be seen as any other kid,” she says. “And I think Capes for Kids helps others see that [kids with disabilities] have a lot of strengths.”