Valerie Perkins is a 14 year old who is a good student and very involved in cheerleading and other activities at school. She is also a peer tutor at her school and helps students with math homework. Valerie is independent and very mature for her age.
Valerie lives at home with her older sister, Angela, and brother, Norman, her younger sister, Erica and her mother and father. The two eldest Perkins boys have moved out of the family home. Franklin is in his junior year at the University of Washington and Elias is in the Air Force.
Valerie’s mother, Cynthia, works at a bank and her dad, Nathaniel, is a cameraman at WKTQ-4, a local TV station. Valeric was born with spina bifida (pronounced spine-uh bifuhda) and she doesn’t mind talking with people about her difference. Spina bifida is, basically, an incomplete closure of the spine, often resulting in the malformation of the spinal cord. Because of the spina bifida, Valerie has minimal feeling in her hips and upper legs and no feeling in her lower legs. As a young child, Valerie spent a lot of time with a physical therapist. Valerie recalls that although many of the exercises seemed like games, they were really designed to work on important skills such as hand-eye coordination, dressing independently, and transferring her body from one surface to another. Her physical therapist, Roger, also helped Valerie learn to walk using braces and a walker and then, when she was older, to use her braces and crutches. The physical therapist has helped Valerie’s physical education teacher make many of the activities in gym accessible and is working with Valerie on exercises and skills for sports.
Since Val is a peer tutor at Woodburn Jr. High, she comes in contact with a lot of different people. She enjoys making new friends, being on the cheerleading squad, playing softball and basketball, reading and working with her school’s student government. As Val often says, “Spina bifida is just one part of who I am. I’m not going to let it keep me from trying anything I want to try!”
Another website to visit;
Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario (SB&H)