Hi, I’m Leslie Wood’s Mom, Lisa Wood. I would like to tell you what an awesome person my daughter is. Leslie was actually a still born baby. The doctors performed CPR on her for 12 minutes and brought Leslie back to life. She was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy at the age of 9 months and has been in a power wheelchair since she was 5 years old.
Leslie is now 18 years old and a rising senior at Hopewell High School and everyone at Hopewell High knows it. This past school year, Leslie participated in the 2015 Miss Hopewell High School Pageant and was voted Miss Congeniality! She was very excited and happy about that, she even had her own Paparazzi flashing pictures during the pageant and afterwards. She could not stop smiling the entire night.
Leslie has taken full advantage of her school’s curriculum, she will take a Life-Skills class for three blocks and this fall will be an office runner for the Main Office for her elective. In the past she has taken Early Childcare and Catering classes for her electives and she has worked in the Library at school.
In her free time Leslie played baseball with the Miracle League of Richmond every Saturday morning. She was on the San Francisco Giants team and came ready to play ball with her bat each Saturday.
Leslie was also selected to attend the 2015 I’m Determined Youth and Parent Summit in Harrisonburg, Virginia at James Madison University in June. This two-day event is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education and the Partnership for People with Disabilities. Youth with disabilities from across the Commonwealth meet to network and discuss issues of importance to youth and young adults with disabilities. This year’s theme was “Get To Work.”
The mission was “to provide children with disabilities with the knowledge and skills they need to live, learn, work and participate in communities of their choice with the maximum amount of independence as possible.”
While there, Leslie and I both made a lot of friends from all over Virginia. Leslie and I met Angela West, 2015 Miss Wheelchair Virginia and Asian Cultural Broker for the Center for Family Involvement at Virginia Commonwealth University. Angela and Leslie instantly connected and they shared stories about the pageants. Angela wants to mentor Leslie to participate in the 2016 Miss Wheelchair Virginia Pageant. Leslie and I are both very excited for this opportunity. In addition, we obtained many resources to help Leslie work on important skills needed for all careers, no matter what pathway she takes.
The I’m Determined project, a state directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education, focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and opportunities to practice skills associated with self-determined behavior. This project facilitates youth, especially those with disabilities to undertake a measure of control in their lives, helping to set and steer the course rather than remaining the silent passenger. (www.imdetermined.org)