Cerebral palsy builds internal strengths


Alexus Plascencia

Joshua Ebert, freshman, still enjoys regular activities with other students like physical education and lunch rallies.

He falls but he never gives up. Freshman Joshua Ebert has encountered blunt force to the brain at birth causing it to bleed. It was then that he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. A disability that would make an enormous impact on the course of his life.

Cerebral palsy causes the brain to send inaccurate messages to the body to tell it what to do. It also causes the muscles to tighten up. As a result, one of his legs goes to the right.

This wasn’t the only thing that affected him. His left eye was also damaged and he was unable to see clearly. That eye would often go the opposite direction of his other eye.

Ebert got surgery so that his eye will go back to normal and his vision will be clear. Throughout his life he has had 16 surgeries. In addition, he is also required to get botox in his leg and back every three months if he wishes to keep walking. The botox injections keep his leg muscle from tightening up to the point that he is unable to walk.

It is also very hard for Ebert to write in class. His teachers help him by printing the notes for him. Physical education teacher Rosslyn Halekakis allows him to do what the other students are taking part of. Some of these activities involve doing circuits in the gym and running a mile on the track every week.

“He never gives up,” Halekakis said. “He has great internal strength. He doesn’t always do it perfect but he never complains.”

Although Ebert has to face living with cerebral palsy every day of his life, there is a surgery he can have that could fix his stride. However, Ebert does not wish to have the surgery.

“It’s a disability,” Ebert said. “They say it’s something that holds you back. I see it as me being blessed because I’m different.”

One minor setback that is inevitable for him is facing the cold. His muscles tighten up very fast in the cold and he is unable to walk. He often misses a lot of school during the winter.

Ebert is afraid that if he comes to school his muscles will tighten up and he will be unable to walk and fall down. If he leaves his house in the cold he will have to wear at least three layers of clothing. Growing up, Ebert faced challenges with people taunting him and making fun of him. This tore him apart, but over the years he learned to not care so much about it.

“If God intended for me to be this way then I am okay with that,” Ebert said. His mother is the one who has helped him grow and feel comfortable with the person he is. “My mom taught me that it’s okay to be different.”

Cerebral palsy isn’t always a trouble for Ebert. When he goes to amusement parks, he doesn’t have to wait in line. “It is one of the coolest things ever to get on the rides right away at Disneyland,” he said. And although Ebert is still a freshman, he wishes to go to college one day and not let the cerebral palsy be a liability.