My name is Francesca Dean. I am 20 years old. All my life I have lived with a physical condition named Cerebral Palsy. Despite this I am a very bright and articulate girl who has big hopes and dreams for the future. Also I refuse to see the negative side of my condition as it has always stayed with me since I was little.
So where did it all begin?
I was born on 28th September 1994 at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, Lancashire weighing a very tiny 2lbs 8oz. at 26 weeks. I was then kept in an incubator where I began to show steady signs of improvement but it wasn’t until a few months later my parents started to notice that there was still something wrong. I wasn’t achieving all of my developmental milestones just like a baby should do. For example lifting my own head up and I was not able to talk until the age of 5.
As I started getting a little bit older I still needed help with my development In order for this to progress I attended Stepping Stones Nursery in Haslingden where I was taught the basics. For example colours and days of the week. I also learnt sign language and received physiotherapy sessions on a daily basis. Attending Stepping Stones saw huge improvements in my overall development and I finally found my voice. Without their help and support they gave to me and my family I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Next I went to Hillside Nursery School in Haslingden I loved it there because you could just do whatever you wanted such as playing in the sand and water tray, playing with building blocks and reading stories I only went there in the afternoons and stayed at Stepping Stones in the mornings.
In the next part of my journey I attended Tor View School in Haslingden it is a fantastic school that caters for all disabilities and additional needs as it was decided I may need extra help after attending both nurseries but somehow a miracle happened. I instantly knew everything that I had been taught at nursery!!it was as if somebody had just turned on a light bulb I can’t put into words how much it meant to me and my family to be able to have the ability to communicate fully. But the happiness didn’t end there at the end of my annual school review the head teacher told my parents “this girl can be educated”. So the decision was made I attended St Mary’s C of E Primary School Rawtenstall. I had to miss Reception Class because it took some time to find a teaching assistant and the relevant paperwork to be processed. To help me settle in I went on an integration programme where I would go to St Mary’s in the morning and Tor View in the afternoons.
I eventually started St Mary’s in year one. I had a fantastic time all the children and staff were so friendly and it didn’t matter to them that I used a wheelchair .I was treated like everybody should be regardless of background, disability and capability. My favourite subjects were English, Art and Music. I spent six happy years there and I cherish every single moment.
However ,starting Haslingden High School was a completely different ballgame. The school is huge!! but everywhere you looked every single classroom or hallway was buzzing with excitement. As I mentioned previously it didn’t matter that I was in a wheelchair and I managed to embrace all aspects of school life. Starting in year 7 was difficult as I had to adapt once again such as meeting new friends and new teachers. As a result of my anxiety my attendance was low and I struggled to hand in my homework. I eventually settled down and I managed to finish high school with 10 GCSE’S.
Every time I mention this I sometimes have to pinch myself because miraculously I have managed to prove those doctors wrong who brought me into this world 20 years ago that I am living proof that with a disability you can do anything that you put your mind to and the most important thing faith. I’m not saying that my journey has been a complete bed of roses but its all thanks to my amazing family who have believed in me from day one.
What an incredible journey so far and it is only just beginning!
Lots of love,