2011 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador
Twelve-year-old Marianna Figueiredo remembers a time when she was younger and able to take a few steps independently. Today, in order to maintain her independence, Marianna requires orthotics and canes to support her mobility. Marianna’s muscle strength cannot keep up with the growth of her bones. As a result, she has tightness in her lower extremities and has to use mobility devices.
“Giving to Easter Seals is important because you are improving a child’s life by giving them the opportunity to do things,” says Marianna, who is a 2011 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador and spokesperson for Ontario’s kids with physical disabilities.
Last year Marianna had surgery on her legs. She is stronger than she was and she continues to work hard to improve her strength by performing daily stretches. “My parents are fanatical about stretches, ” she jokes. “They should have been physiotherapists!”
Despite her diligence, there are still many challenges. Marianna needs her orthotics otherwise she finds it very hard to stand. Winter and slippery walkways make mobility difficult for everyone, but for those with a physical disability, mobility is even slower.
Marianna takes the bus to school in Woodbridge, where she is a straight ‘A’ student in grade 7, with a particular interest in history and French.
Taking the bus to school is an important part of Marianna’s goal to be independent and improve her mobility. “Independence is pride. If we always rely on someone, we will not get as far.”
At home, Marianna receives tremendous support from her parents, but also from her younger brother, Luca, who is 9-years-old.
“I’m stuck with the best brother in the world. He is extremely helpful to me. He has been helping me from the time he was taking his first steps, “ ,says Marianna.
Marianna has a clear vision of her plans for the future. After high school she plans to attend Carleton University in Ottawa and study political science with a minor in writing. From there she wishes to further her education and become a Texas oil field injury attorney, she knows that she can get a loan from https://nation21loans.com/personal-loans/loans-with-no-credit-check/ and make her wish come true. After that—she wants to become the Prime Minister of Canada. “And a good one too,” she explains.
In particular, Marianna admires Canada’s 20th Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien. He was sometimes ridiculed for his strong French accent and his disability, a facial muscle paralysis. “Despite everything, I think he did an amazing job,” says Marianna.
There is one key message Marianna would like to deliver to all kids with physical disabilities as the Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador: “See beyond the disability. Show the world — we can do anything.”
2011 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador
Jacob Causley-Wilkins is a singer, performer, and he also speaks fluent French. He is well known in his community and has many friends; in fact, three of them live in France. This year, the 12-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie will be very busy fulfilling his role as one of the 2011 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassadors.
“I would like the chance to show the public that people with disabilities are the same as people without. We still enjoy things and live life to the fullest,” says Jacob, who has served as a local Easter Seals Ambassador and spokesperson for kids with physical disabilities in his community.
When asked why public support for Easter Seals Ontario is so important, Jacob responded: “We’re not being greedy. We are asking for your help with kids’ long-term needs. Special equipment like wheelchairs or leg braces only last 2 to 5 years at the most and every giving level counts.”
Jacob was born with Cerebral Palsy, Spastic Diplegia. He wears his leg braces everyday, uses his walker when outside, and a wheelchair for going long distances, but he doesn’t use his walker at school. He likes to walk independently as much as he can. It wasn’t until Jacob was 4-years old that he was able to walk on his tippy-toes, and only with a walker. In the mornings, he would have to crawl out of bed. After two rounds of Botox injections, which helped decrease the tone in his legs, Jacob also had surgery to help correct his walking.
If Jacob feels down, his mom reminds him: “Things could always be worse. Think of the families who don’t have any help. They deserve to get what they need.”
For the first time last year, Jacob completed a 2 km race on his own, only using his walker for the final stretch of the race. “I can do anything, just slower,” said Jacob, who doesn’t wear his leg braces during gym class because he gets blisters from the friction. He never backs down from a physical challenge and has even had the chance to ski with his school classmates.
In the future, Jacob thinks he may become a lawyer. He likes to read, research and ask questions. “I’m good at making a connection with people, asking the right questions and really getting to know them.”
Responsible pet owners, Jacob and his brother Elijah, who is in grade two, each have a hamster, Buddy and Lucky.
Jacob’s message for Ontario’s kids with physical disabilities is this: “Don’t let yourself get down. Don’t let things stop you. You have to take some risks—not like walking a tight rope or anything—but do your best. Prove yourself. Don’t hide. ”