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Payton Light is a “fashionista,” a ten-year-old twin to Jillian, and is passionate about playing sports and participating in activities with her peers. She enjoys playing defense in our Adapted football program, loves scoring goals in adapted soccer, and has been riding horses at Camp Cheerful since she was five years old. Payton does not let having cerebral palsy and using her wheelchair or her purple walker define who she is.

Payton and Jillian were born at 29 weeks and weighed only 2 pounds 13 ounces. Professionals reassured her parents the twins were tiny but healthy. They said don’t worry. At 18 months old, however, doctors diagnosed Payton with cerebral palsy and told them she might never walk or talk. Her parents were devastated. They researched her condition and traveled to find the latest, greatest surgeries and therapies to help their daughter accomplish as much as possible. “Once I stopped putting time frames on when she was going to accomplish milestones though, I started enjoying the smaller things that she could accomplish and the amazing girl she is,” said her mother, Carrie.

For the past three-and-a-half years, Payton has been coming to the Achievement Centers for Children in Westlake for physical therapy with Josh Palcic. Carrie said, “We like the dynamics the two of them have. Josh can get her to do things that she won’t do for us. He knows when he needs to get tough and how to motivate her. Every time she grows taller, it’s more difficult for her. It’s harder for her to hold her body up straight since her core muscles are pretty weak. Josh works with her to adapt through those kinds of changes as she grows. Her overall strength continues to improve, she’s more confident, and she is finding ways to be more independent.”

Carrie offered this advice to parents. “Let your kids ask questions of children who are different. I love it when parents let their kids come up and ask questions, and I let Payton answer them. After the child asks why she is in a wheelchair, they play as friends. It’s no longer a barrier between them. Discouraging children from asking questions reinforces the feeling that the child is different. I want Payton to have friends and to be a friend. Who she is is key. It’s not what she can or can’t do – it’s who she is. our Payton is feisty, funny, competitive, and awesome.”

Pediatric physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language therapies at the Achievement Centers are very personalized to meet the needs of each individual child. Our pediatric therapists make sessions productive and fun to achieve the greatest outcomes, and sessions are dedicated exclusively to each individual. Generous donation made to the Achievement Centers helps offset the cost of providing pediatric therapy sessions.

"Once I stopped putting time frames on when she was going to accomplish milestones, I started enjoying the smaller things that she could accomplish and the amazing girl she is."

Payton's mother, Carrie Light
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