UM: What is your name?
Melia: My name is Melia White.
UM: How old are you?
Melia: I am 14 years old.
UM: Where are you from? (State only)
Melia: I live in the state of sunny Florida.
UM: What type of disability do you have?
Melia: I have Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy.
UM: Were you born with it? How did you handle knowing?
Melia: Yes, I was born with my Cerebral Palsy. I do not remember finding out at a specific time, I just remember having it all my life.
UM: Is depression a problem? If so, how do you deal with it?
Melia: No, depression is not a problem for me but I do at times get discouraged. I deal with my discouragement by thinking about how far I have come and how much I have overcome. My friends and family really support me too.
UM: What limitations does your disability place on you?
Melia: Sadly, quite a few right now. A few years ago I had a surgery done called PERCS/SPML for short (if anyone would like more information please leave a comment) so I cannot walk at the moment because my legs are not strong enough to hold me up yet. I have limits on where I can go and what I can do. I cannot go to places where my special needs stroller cannot fit and I cannot do anything that requires standing, running, etc.
UM: How did your family handle you having a disability?
Melia: My family was understanding and accepted me for who I am, seeing me as a person and not my disability first. My parents are especially understanding and really awesome. They let me do as much as I can and provide so much help for me and it means a lot. I cannot say enough about how much I am thankful for them. I would also like to say that my aunt and uncle are very understanding and also try to help me and support me the best they can. They see me as their niece with a disability, not their disabled niece and I am very grateful for them.
UM: How has your disability affected daily activities?
Melia: As I said before, I cannot walk because of my weak legs so really all my daily activities involve my mom helping me get around. Our house is really accessible so it is not hard for me to get to the places I need to go which is nice. My mom has also made things easier for me like having chairs in my bathroom and the kitchen so I can still do everything I need to.
UM: In school, how does your disability affect you? Are there any accommodations?
Melia: I do homeschool, more specifically Florida Virtual School, and in one way my disability does affect my comprehension of Math. It is harder for me to understand and everything has to be explained simply and sometimes repeatedly for me with math because of my Cerebral Palsy. There are many accommodations in Florida Virtual School for math help and my teachers have been really nice and helpful.
UM: How do your friends and classmates react to your disability?
Melia: My friends are really awesome and understanding. They keep me going and are my cheerleaders, supporting me every step of the way. They do not see me as having a disability; they see me as normal, just with special needs. They help me as much as they can and try to make things fun and easy for me. They stick up for me and I know they are always there for me. I cannot say enough about how much all my friends mean to me. I would not have gotten this far without them.
UM: Tell me about the biggest obstacle you face having a disability?
Melia: This was a hard question to answer to be honest but I would have to say the hardest thing is not being able to walk, run, and stand, etc., right now. I have never really been able to play sports or dance partly because of my disability and partly because I felt self-conscious so that has been hard. Sometimes, it is very hard just to have to sit and watch everyone else play but thanks to my surgery, one day I will be able to play with my friends; I just have to keep working.
UM: What is something that you hope gets better for the disabled community?
Melia: I hope more resources come out for the disabled community so that it can help make things easier and more enjoyable for people with disabilities. Plus, the more resources that come out will lead to more awareness and understanding. They have come out with lots of helpful stuff already and I hope that continues.
UM: A quote or saying that keeps you motivated. Why?
Melia: The saying I repeat most often to myself is “You can do it!” because it helps keep me motivated and helps me to keep going and not give up when things are hard. It really works too because once in therapy on a hard exercise I told myself I could do it and I did it. That saying helps me continue to work hard.