“What do you want? A boy or a girl?” The PC answer is of course “We just want it to be healthy” – but what if it’s not?
What happens to the percentage of parents who aren’t gifted that answer?
The best person to ask is Karni Liddell. One of Australia’s most successful and well-respected Paralympic swimmers of our time. Karni was diagnosed at birth with a degenerative muscle wasting disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Many Doctors and specialists told her amazing parents that their first-born child would not walk, sit up or live past her teenage years. In fact many specialists told Terri and Jeff Liddell to make their daughter as comfortable as possible, as exercise only makes this condition worse.
Karni’s parents started her on a ‘crazy’ self-invented rehabilitation program which soon helped them realise that one of the greatest pleasures in life is achieving things people say can’t be done! Not only did Karni walk she also established herself as one of the best swimmers in the world. Karni broke her first world record at the age of 14 and went into the Sydney Paralympic Games as the fastest woman in the world for all her events.
Now Karni wants parents to understand that disability doesn’t discriminate, it’s not a life sentence, it chooses beautiful people every single day.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Karni through my radio travels, and there is not a more motivated, inspirational human on the planet. Spend a minute with her and you will forget she has a disability even though she is clearly sitting in a wheelchair in front of you. She has done more with her “disabled” body than most do with an abled body in a lifetime.
At a recent TEDx talk at Southbank she explored the notion of a heathy happy baby. Any parent faced with news that normally would be heartbreaking might find hope with this. Those that have the stereotypical happy, healthy baby will appreciate the dedication of parents that don’t.