But Anna isn’t quite like other 14 year olds. She has an uncommon fortitude, determination, and despite all her struggles, optimism. Amongst her ambitions are to be Prime Minister or a motivational speaker.
To say that Anna has been through a lot is an understatement. She was born with Athrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a condition that causes joints to become locked in place. It has affected everything from her lungs to her back to her height to her mobility. She needs splints on her hands and fingers to make sure they stretch. She’s undergone over 40 surgical procedures.
School wasn’t always easy either. She was bullied and found herself excluded from many aspects of social life. Needing an adult to push you around on your wheelchair doesn’t exactly scream ‘cool’. But Anna has found ways to thrive nonetheless, and after changing schools, many of her problems are now like that of anyone else: how to spend more time with friends or how to stay on top of homework.
“I do get to miss some school at times when I have to go to the hospital for appointments, which is kind of nice”, she jokes.
Technology has been crucial to opening up Anna’s life. Except for short distances, Anna had been utterly dependent on others to get around. But while on a trip to Queensland, she spotted a woman riding around on a Luggie, a small mobility scooter that folds up to fit in the boot of a car. Anna had an idea. She knew she’d need a better solution for getting around once she’d made the switch to high school. So she asked Variety to see if they could help. And they did.
The scooter changed everything.
Anna now rides around the city without any supervision. She sees movies with her friends. She takes the Luggie overseas. She uses it at school.
“It’s great. It folds up really easily and I can put it in the boot of the car and it’s rechargeable and I use it to get to all my classes and it carries everything, all my books and computer and my trumpet, which I need because we have to learn a musical instrument at school”, Anna said.
Not everything is perfect. The clasp mechanism that allows the seat to be lifted up and down requires too much strength for Anna, and she wishes the scooter was a little more rainproof, but apart from that there are no complaints. She doesn’t even use the arm rests because of her insistence on good posture!
The Ipad has also opened up Anna’s digital world. Using a dictation app, she was able to get around her typing difficulties, and now navigates the internet as adroitly as any teenager. Again, Variety were the heroes, delivering the funding just in time for the Christmas of 2014.
‘I use the Ipad for anything from pictures and printing, to schoolwork and speeches’, Anna said.
Anna regularly gives speeches at Variety events, which has nurtured her passion for making a difference. At Scooters Australia we’re excited to see what she can do.
Postscript, 2020: Anna’s now 16 and has bought a second Luggie – one for school and one for the car.