Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Cerebral Palsy no match for 3 year old Ashley

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Pakuranga’s three-year-old Ashley Jia-Qi Neilson lives with celebral palsy.

Ashley Jia-Qi Neilson would probably not be as patient and dedicated if she didn’t have Cerebral Palsy (CP), says Ashley’s mum Victoria Wen-xin Neilson.

“She’s a much more dedicated and observant child because she must constantly improve and watch out for danger,” says Victoria.

Because of Ashley’s CP – a physical disability that affects movement and posture – she has a much better and supportive family than if she didn’t have CP, her mum admits.

“Having to deal with all the unexpected and challenging situations, I have changed almost completely as a person.

“I’ve not talked to my father much for years, however, due to the challenging situations that came with Ashley, we are now a much closer family than before.”

And the biggest challenge for Ashley, who attends Pakuranga Baptist Kindergarten?

“It’s hard to limit to one challenge,” says Victoria.

“Ashley depends on others to get to where she needs as she can’t walk without assistance, while at the same time, she has issues making others aware of what she needs because of her struggles with speech.

“Cognitively she is doing well but it will be hard for others to realise this and treat her appropriately.”

Victoria is opening up about her and her husband Derek’s daughter as the Cerebral Palsy Society of New Zealand begins to ramp up marketing for its annual campaign.

Office workers walk on average 3000 steps a day and the Cerebral Palsy Society wants Kiwi workers to step it up for September, to raise important funds for people living with cerebral palsy.

The Steptember campaign challenges New Zealanders to take 10,000 steps a day for 28 days in the month of Steptember (Sept 3-30), or the equivalent exercise from a choice of  40 alternate activities.

Participants can log their steps online or via the Steptember app using a supplied pedometer given to them when they sign up.  The fundraiser has been designed for work colleagues and schools to form a team of four participants, with last year’s event seeing nearly 17,000 compete in the challenge.

Organisers are also offering to the first 100 schools registering a full team of four students and/or teachers, an additional 30 pedometers and all funds raised by the school go into the official team bucket.

Gilli Sinclair, chief executive of the Cerebral Palsy Society, says she hopes every school that participates in the ‘First 100 schools challenge’ will meet the goal of raising at least $10 from each student who has received a free pedometer.

She says schools and employers recognise that supporting Steptember sends a powerful message to their workforce or community that their organisation recognises the importance of keeping active and nurturing their health and wellbeing.

Cerebral Palsy is the most common physical disability amongst children, with one in every 500 children born in New Zealand being affected by this lifelong condition.

  • Registration is $25 per participant, which includes a pedometer delivered to you, and the chance to win many prizes. Teams of four are $100. You can support the CP Society by making a donation or registering at

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