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Extra Life Helps Kids Living with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can make life difficult. Movement and communication can become a challenge. The differences those challenges present give those with cerebral palsy a unique perspective on the world, one that can be hard to understand for those without the condition. However, that doesn’t mean that kids or adults with cerebral palsy don’t need love or connection. They dream just as big as anyone else.

October 6th is World Cerebral Palsy Day, a time for everyone to consider the community of people living with the condition alongside all of us. Those with cerebral palsy travel a difficult road with all kinds of challenges both physical and mental. Their perspectives on the world teach us the importance of creating more accessible environments, buildings, and devices for those who might lack the ability to effectively move across short or long distances – or even play games.

With input from physicians and numerous groups including the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Microsoft was able to release the Xbox One Adaptive Controller, a device that allows those with conditions affecting their mobility to game with a wide variety of peripherals that can be mapped to different buttons on a traditional controller. Developers on the software side of things in the games industry have been creating different in-game settings to accommodate those who might have a hard time playing due to audio or visual impairment or even easier difficulty settings that allow everyone to experience their games.

One of the people trying her best to make the world a better place for kids with cerebral palsy is Boston Children’s Hospital’s Miracle Child Stella and her mother. Born over a month early, Stella had numerous complications while growing up. Her mom had to call 911 numerous times to have her resuscitated and it became clear early on that Stella had cerebral palsy. As she grew older, her mom found it difficult to do little things like take her to the beach or go on walks. Stella’s grandfather had an idea: A beach buggy.

The device Stella’s grandfather created out of PVC piping and four wheels altered the family’s life:

Going down to the beach was so much easier. I could just put her in the chair and we could go over all types of terrain. Even just going on field trips for her, like we went apple picking on a field trip and we were able to bring the buggy. And then we realized, after we had her buggy, that we were able to take her for walks along the street which was just awesome.

After experiencing how much the buggy changed their lives, Stella and her mom started a non-profit, Stepping Stones for Stella, a group that has helped hundreds of families to open up the world for those with cerebral palsy. “It’s not an easy road at first,” says Stella’s mom, “but it gets easier — and less scary.”

Extra Life is proud to be able to support kids like Stella in Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals around the United States and Canada. Thank you to everyone who helps build up facilities like Boston Children’s Hospital with the best equipment, buildings, and people to make sure that every child who comes through their doors gets the care and attention they need.

Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!