Cerebral palsy doesn't limit 8th grader

June 14, 2009 7:15:12 AM PDT
The typical student is usually involved in a number of different school activities. This is also true for a northwest suburb eighth grader with cerebral palsy. Fourteen-year-old Allison Baron is a role model for many students with and without disabilities. She has put her trademark on almost every activity at Winston Campus Junior High School in Palatine.

These are a few of the school activities that Allison Baron is involved in. Her favorites are cheerleading and art.

"I want to be an artist," said Allison.

"Allison's art work really reveals her commitment to the arts that she loves art. It's expressive, it's beautiful and it's heartfelt," said Allison's teacher, Zoe Shapera.

Shapera says she is extremely independent.

"I would say that her physical limitations don't really show up," Shapera said. "Her work is expressive, maybe technically she's got some room to grow, but she strives to overcome those challenges."

Getting involved with Winston Campus cheerleading squad took some modifications, says her mom Debra.

"I'm coach of an all-special-needs-squad," said Debra, "so when she come to junior high it was natural that she wanted to try out for the squad, and her coach Colleen Scott was very excited to incorporate her. And then I worked with Colleen to modify what Allison does as part of the routine. They don't change the routine in cheerleading, what they do change, what we change, is how Allison participates in the cheerleading."

Being part of the band was a little more challenging.

"Because I like music and I like to play, because like a couple of years ago, I was in the band but last year I quit and I thought I could do it this year," Allison said.

But with help from bandmate Aarifah Lahri she is able to be part of it.

"She tries really hard to try and get all the pieces together, and sometimes when I'm by her I try to help her out with the music pieces so that when she comes in we just set up and she plays the pieces," said Aarifah.

Both her mom and school have played a significant role in Allison's involvement.

"This is a fabulous school, never at any time do we have a problem getting her into any program," said Debra. "They've always had one-on-one aide for her to help her. They've integrated her into routine classes."

This fall, things are going to change for Allison, when she enters Palatine High School.

"We just want to look for the same opportunities to integrate her into activities and academics. That's very important for us that she has that full experience in her teenage years," said Debra.

Allison's mom advice to other parents of children with disabilities is first understand your child's passion and then find people who will help them live their dreams.


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