Labor of Love
Posted Sep 10, 2018 by Jacquie Robison
"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Martin Luther King Jr.

It was just one week ago that I travelled to Toronto, Canada for WAWOS-related meetings and meet-ups. Over the course of the Labor Day weekend, it was my privilege to spend time with two incredible groups of people; one was Canada's elite military air demonstration team, the Snowbirds, and the other was the Saliola Family. Together with their spirited daughter, Charlotte, this family was part of a very special moment.

Charlotte is a young dynamo who loves pink and purple, is a fan of Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, and who also happens to have Cerebral Palsy.

Below, Charlotte's mom Anna shares some thoughts on their family's journey and reflects on the kindness and character that was so clearly on display in Toronto...
- - - - -
My youngest daughter Charlotte was born at just 24 weeks + 6 days gestation. Our life since her very early arrival has been a bit of a whirlwind: from the emergency c-section, 132 days in the NICU, bringing her home on 24/7 oxygen, to a diagnosis of Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder, Bilateral Strabismus and an eye surgery, and then on to a day, shortly after her Second Birthday, when we received her diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.

We've had to do a lot of 'on the job' learning as we figured out the best way to take care of her and to encourage her. We've had to both step up and stand back and watch as she endures countless hours of therapy just to do simple things that most people take for granted.

I love the idea and the connecting thread that WAWOS was built on - We're All Working On Something. Charlotte's physical "something" is obvious: she's now 3 years old but standing and balancing remain a challenge. She's working hard to learn to use a walker, and she has a long path to navigate before she can walk independently. Through the experience of raising Charlotte, the most important thing I've learned is that no two people with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia will present the exact same way. Even though they may have the same goal of controlling their bodies and their movements, the path to getting there will be different and may change over time. In many ways, I've learned what I know is true about every child...each one is unique and uniquely their own person.

My main wish for Charlotte is that as she grows and really realizes the extent of the work she's doing in physical therapy, she never thinks it's because she isn't good enough just the way she is. I hope she recognizes that it's because we know she has something incredible to offer the world, and we want her to be confident enough in herself and her ability to do anything she sets her mind to.
Having WAWOS arrange a meet-up with an aerobatics team that represents the best in Canadian military aviation was unreal. The fact that the Snowbirds made time to present my daughter Charlotte with a customized cape reinforced everything that is good in humanity. It gave me such hope that as Charlotte goes through life -- and grows through experience -- there will always be people who see and celebrate all that she has, and not focus on what she is still working to get. 
Thank you, Saliola Family.
Thank you, Snowbirds.

This entry was posted in Musings, Community