“It’s just the way I was born,” she said so matter of fact. Making it through the world as a 14 year old young lady is a challenge in itself. When obstacles that come along with cerebral palsy are added to the teen years, you see true strength and resilience emerge. Libby’s confidence comes shining through when asked what she would like strangers to know above all else. “If you push yourself far enough you can do anything” she responded.
Libby and her twin brother James were born 11 weeks prematurely. Right away doctors knew that Libby had cerebral palsy. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, “The term cerebral palsy refers to any one of a number of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination but don’t worsen over time. Even though cerebral palsy affects muscle movement, it isn’t caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. It is caused by abnormalities in parts of the brain that control muscle movements.”
At birth, Libby’s complications were more significant than her brother’s. However, at 5 weeks of age, James suffered a stroke which left him with extremely high muscle tone and the inability to communicate verbally, among other complications. Libby and James share a unique and special bond as twins. She understands James and what his needs are, enabling her to help when there is a necessity. “I feel like he’s my age but I still watch over him more,” she shared. Twin life for Libby isn’t all unity all of the time. Like many siblings close in age, they argue and have a little sibling rivalry. Over the years, Libby’s parents have instituted different “birthdays” so that each has the opportunity to be celebrated as an individual.
Libby’s wisdom and confidence are far beyond her years. She has learned to overcome things that may have taken a lifetime for others. After a tough 6th grade year with typical “girl drama”, as she referred to it, Libby learned the importance of keeping her head in her school work, refusing to get caught up in gossip and hurt feelings. She now has straight A’s in her classes at Poudre High School.
Along with maintaining her grade point average, Libby has participated in
activities like wheelchair basketball, swimming and equine therapy. The challenges of cerebral palsy are real and a part of Libby’s everyday life. Things most take for granted require more time and a lot of energy for Libby to accomplish. Her day is full of transfers (moving in and out of her wheelchair) which can be very tiring. Writing with a pen or pencil takes Libby extra time and attention. Libby doesn’t let it get her down. She uses all that life has set in her lap to inspire others. She hopes to inspire younger children who are in a wheelchair by teaching them not to limit themselves based on their circumstance.
Through life’s ups and downs, Libby has upheld her amazing perspective. She refuses to view things that do not work out as failures but instead as a learning opportunity. For example, after a season of basketball she found that she just didn’t have the speed required to keep up with her peers. Instead of being discouraged by that, she smiled and chose to look forward to her next possible adventure. There is no doubt that she is already achieving her goal of inspiring both young and old alike.
Poudre School District Integrated Services Director: Sarah Belleau 2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521