Category Archives: In the News

Climbing Munros with Cerebral Palsy

By: Fiona Tapp

Via Folks Magazine

There is a certain satisfaction in proving people wrong. That’s a satisfaction David C. Reilly, who has cerebral palsy, has relished his whole life.

Born in Harrington, a harbor town that serves as the gateway between England and Scotland, David’s childhood days were spent outdoors. He remembers his father carrying him on his back in a carrier as they made their way over miles of hills in the northern heartland.

Struggling at school, where his teachers once suggested that his symptoms were so severe, he would better off at a day center, David turned to nature for solace. He became a Boy Scout, and threw himself into outdoor pursuits that allowed him to develop new physical skills, and traveling with his troupe.

Despite his teachers’ skepticism that he could ever sit a public exam, David grew up to be something of an academic. By 26, he had a bachelor’s in biotech and a master’s in molecular biology: “Not bad for a slow learner!” he jokes.

Yet it’s outdoors where David has always felt most at home. And despite the “unhelpful diagnosis” of cerebral palsy, which affects everyone differently, David has thrived pursuing his passion for outdoor sports.

Last year, for example, David cycled the length of the Outer Hebrides, an island chain off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The 186 mile, five day ride is an accomplishment for any cyclist, but especially for one who has to work so hard to maintain their equilibrium. If anything, though, David says he struggles to pace himself as he rides. “It is difficult striking a balance between trying to keep up with able-bodied friends and accepting limitations,” he says.

Another passion is walking the Scottish highlands, which can be beautiful, but also mean facing harsh weather conditions, especially in winter. “Walking in winter is a challenge and it brings elements of danger,” he says. The important thing for me is never to overestimate what I can safely do in a day. Better to go with someone, tell people where you will be as well as have a map and compass and know how to use them!”

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Remarkable Woman with CP Sings to Sell Out Crowd

By: Alex Shipman

Via: Gloucestershirelive.co.uk

Actress Becky Andrews has abseiled Gloucestershire’s tallest building and sky dived – despite having cerebral palsy.

And the remarkable 35-year-old, often seen with her assistant Labrador Gino, performed last night to a sell-out crowd as part of a 150-strong choir at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre.

Becky, from Hatherley, was hospitalised several times between January and March this year after falling over in her home while moving onto the settee.

But friends have raised more than £13,500 to afford an electric multi-terrain wheelchair which allows her to stand up and sing comfortably on stage.

Surrounded by her peers, she captured the imagination of an attentive audience with her performance on July 11.

Becky is a fundraiser for Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and has abseiled down the Eagle Tower and sky dived from a plane in order to raise money. She is also an actress at The Everyman.

Years of managing cerebral palsy with a standard wheelchair have strained Becky’s body to the point where she has no strength on one side.

Without the help of the wheelchair and Gino, who opens doors and removes her clothing, she would struggle with daily activities.

Speaking before the show, Becky, who joined the choir over a year ago, said: “I’ve always used an electric wheelchair but the last one was bog standard. This one is safer, it strengthens my muscles and allows me to stand.

“Gino is fantastic as well and so important to me. He picks things up off the floor that I need and opens doors for me. He also takes my shoes off and my jacket when I get home.

“He will be part of the performance tonight as well because he lies in front of me on stage.”

The chair, a Chasswheel Four X DL designed by Mybility, has four motors to power each wheel and the split differential axles allow for navigation of higher or rough ground – and even larger stones or steps.

It allows moments where Becky can stand, have enhanced blood circulation, easier breathing and a reduction of contractures.

Louise Partridge, head of education at The Everyman, said: “This chair is fantastic.

“It will not only allow Becky to manage a variety of terrains which will give her more independence and mobility, it also allows her to stand and reach things, stretch her body and exercise her limbs.

“She will even be able to order a drink at the bar.”

Feds Find Fewer States Meeting Special Ed Obligations

Via: DisabilityScoop.com

By: Michelle Diament

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

Less than half of states are meeting their obligations to appropriately serve students with disabilities under the nation’s special education law, federal education officials say.

In an annual review, the U.S. Department of Education found that only 22 states deserved the “meets requirements” designation for the 2015-2016 school year. All other states were placed into the “needs assistance” category.

The findings issued this summer come from a mandatory assessment of state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The ratings are based on how well states meet their obligations to serve students with disabilities ages 3 to 21.

Federal officials look at student performance and functional outcomes for kids with disabilities as well as how well states follow through with procedural duties like completing special education evaluations.

If a state fails to achieve the “meets requirements” level for two or more consecutive years, IDEA stipulates that the Education Department take enforcement action, which can include redirecting or withholding funds, developing a corrective action plan or mandating other changes.

This year’s determinations reflect a drop in the number of states found to meet requirements. Last year, 24 states received that designation.

States receiving letters indicating that they met their obligations under IDEA include Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The remaining states were labeled “needs assistance.”

No state received the more extreme designations of “needs intervention” or “needs substantial intervention.”

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