How Cerebral Palsy and education have gone hand in hand

Oct. 26, 2020
Disability Awareness graphic

A DPS Team Member’s Story

My name is Kelly Ramos and I am sharing my story about how Cerebral Palsy and education have gone hand in hand.

When my Mom used to introduce me to her friends she would say “this is Kelly, she didn’t talk for two years so she now spends every waking moment to make up for it”.  And in all honesty that is a pretty accurate statement.

I was fortunate enough to attend a school called Margaret Walters in Arvada, Colorado.  I remember it had a large swimming pool and every day we’d be almost thrown into the pool to begin our exercise treatments.  I still love the water today and often use pools as my stress reliever during hard times.  I was then subsequently placed in a traditional preschool program and I remember throwing a major temper tantrum because there was no pool for swimming .  I will say my Pre-School teachers were formative in my personal development because they never once gave up on me.  At times I’d hang on a stair banister yelling full volume at the teachers because I didn’t want to go down the stairs as a part of my Physical Therapy  and they consistently and patiently encouraged me to meet my goals.   This was my first experience in why differentiation matters.

Fast forward to my Senior High School Graduation.  I was elated we had all graduated- High School was over and we  were gathered in the space of the event center hallway.  I ran up to one of my closest friends to hug him.  He stopped me and said “I’m glad that we’re here but I don’t understand why you couldn’t have walked normal when you accepted your diploma”.

Walk Normal?

Now, I am an Educator at  CEC Early College –  I was offered the opportunity to teach Intro to Med Careers which was a great stepping stone into the REAL passion of mine which is working in Emergency Medical Services.  When CEC was offered a partnership with Denver Health Paramedics to run an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)  course the answer was a resounding YES!    Not only was a Female running the EMT program, a person with a documented disability was going to be leading  the pilot  program.  At times, especially if I don’t eat or take care of myself my hand tremors can become super noticeable.  This can be concerning as a patient or family member to see because it may lead them to believe that I’m nervous.   I always make up that nervous energy and hand tremors with my confidence and the fact that I pride myself in learning new things every day related to medicine.  I have the chance to bring that to my classroom.   I show “centering” techniques that help prepare me for big tests and or skills examinations.  My students literally watch as my tremors will lessen in their severity with deep breaths and focus. “My tremors  will always be a part of who I am” I  I tell them- and I also say, if I ever had steady hands I don’t think I’d know how to start an IV.   I use my disability as an opportunity to drive my belief home that no one has the right to tell you that you “can’t do something”.   Especially since I’m “doing something” every day when  I’m standing in front of the classroom in full uniform.

Having a disability does not define who we are and what we can and cannot do.  I appreciate that my body overwhelming lets me know when I need to practice more self-care.  In addition, it serves as a reminder that even on the most important and special days that no one should take away your celebration- regardless of why his or her hurtful intent was shared to begin with.  You absolutely can suit up and show up on my watch at any time.

“A Hero is an Ordinary Individual who finds the Strength to Persevere and Endure in Spite of Overwhelming Obstacles,” —  Christopher Reeve