Hello Everyone at UCP-OC!
My name is Katy Fetters and I am a college freshman at Soka University right here in Orange County! To introduce myself a bit more, I was born with mild hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy and I feel fortunate enough to get around okay with my CP, but I do experience much of the fatigue and tightness that comes along with having CP. I have been involved with UCP-OC on and off this past year or so with the Gala last spring, and since I am local to OC, I have visited the Life Without Limits center a few times now. I also keep up my own blog for teens with CP on www.teencerebralpalsy.com, and blog for the OM Foundation, www.1man1mission.org one of UCP-OC’s donors. That’s about it! Starting this week I will be writing once a month about what its like to have CP and be a college student.
As far as college goes I have been here a little over a month now, living on campus and getting acclimated to what college has to offer! I’ll get right to the point and tell you why I am here writing to you all. I am sure most of you know someone with a disability—may that person be yourself, your child, sister, cousin, aunt or uncle… The idea is that we can all connect with each other on some level. I would like to share some of my most recent experiences with being a freshman in college and dealing with CP. As frustrating and difficult as CP is at times (I am sure some of you know!) I feel like now that I am in college, I have realized that people don’t really put too much consideration into the fact that I walk differently from “normal” people. Sure, there are still people who ask me why I am limping, or what is “wrong” with my leg, but that is mostly out of concern. I feel like at this stage in my life, many people are past the point of bullying or poking fun at me for walking differently. I am free to be myself, more so than at any other time in my life. It is a very comforting feeling, knowing that I am in such a non- judgmental environment where physical appearances hold very little significance. Granted, not all colleges are like Soka as far as I am aware. Everyone here is very welcoming and excited to learn about the world and themselves.
I grew up in Orange County, so I know what it is like to go to a high school where the shoes you wore defined how cool you were, or how you looked was a measure of social competence and acceptance. Trust me, I struggled in high school.. so for me to come to college not knowing anyone and feeling like I am totally in my element, is refreshing. I am telling all of this to you with the hope I can show you that my experience with going away to college and living with Cerebral Palsy is very manageable. It is overwhelming yes, there is a lot of different things to take into account that people my age would never even think twice about (ie. Getting around campus, wearing a brace at night, and finding shoes I can walk in…) the confidence building is still taking place, but every day I assure myself that everyone goes through struggles with or without a disability during a transition period. CP is just that little cherry on top that I constantly have to work with, and I have come to accept that.
I think that is all I have for today. I am aware that CP comes in all different forms and severities, and that is why I stress to you that these are my personal experiences with Cerebral Palsy, and my only hope is that you can take something positive from my experiences and realize that CP should never hinder you from following your (or whomever you know with a disability’s) ambitions. I hope that I am able to give you some insight into how CP affects a young adult like me!