Disablity or Not: I Am Me

An interview with a brave boy

Camille Legaspi, Writer/Interviewer

Tell us your name , how old you are, what school you go to and about your unique trait.
My name is Andrei Zepeda, I am eight years old, I go to Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School and I was born with Cerebral Palsy.

So Andrei, I believe that you have a special story that everyone would like to know about. What do you want people to know about you?
Well, (laughs) I already told you that I have cerebral palsy, you’re being so silly (laughs).

Well yes, I guess I’m being quite silly, but silly me already forgot what you said!
(laughs) Oh my goodness, you’re so silly. I’m only going to say it one more time, so maybe you should record…I’m just kidding! From what my family tells me, I was born really early and when I came out of my mom’s tummy, my legs were kind of like scissors. Like they were really stuck together! After that, they put me in a special part of the hospital with the other babies that needed help like I did. After a little bit in the hospital, I went home to my family!

Wow, you sure do know a lot of things huh?
Yes, my family tells me I’m smart and I sure am! (giggles uncontrollably)

So, I have like real grown up questions for you, do you think you can handle that boss man?
I sure can. I can handle all the questions you have for me. I’m smart, remember?

How could I forget? So, how do you really feel about having cerebral palsy?
Well, I feel really sad about it.

It’s because I see a bunch of kids always walking and running around in the playground at school and I feel bad because I want to get out of my wheelchair and do the same thing that they’re doing. …I want to do things by myself.

How does cerebral palsy affect your everyday life?
Most of the time, I am sitting down on the couch or on my bed, when I eat my food I’m in my activity chair. When I’m home, I crawl on the floor. My family always says they know when I’m coming because all they hear is thump, thump, thump…kind of like thunder!

Oh my! Your family is silly!
Well yeah duh! That would make you silly too, since you’re my sister and all (laughs).

Shhhh! No one is supposed to know! …Do you ever get tired of living with cerebral palsy?
Sometimes I do. I get tired of being helped all the time. I want to do things by myself and having cerebral palsy means that I need help all the time.

Are there any positives to living with cerebral palsy?
Yeah, sometimes. But the positive thing is that I know my family loves me a lot because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be helping me.

I seriously agree with that! You are very very smart! …Now I know having cerebral palsy is hard, but going to therapy must be so awesome! You get to work with so much cool equipment, tell me, what is your favorite exercise?
I like to do planks because my therapist tells me that it helps with abs! My uncles have them and so does Batman! It looks so cool! I also like going on the treadmill. Even when the cords are holding me up, I feel free!

What is your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject is music.

It is relaxing. It makes me feel normal, it makes me forget that there are bad things going on in the world.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a doctor who can also do surgery too.

That’s really cool! Why do you want to be a doctor who can also do surgery?
Well because I want to give back. A lot of doctors help me so I can get the chance to walk and live a normal life. I also got two surgeries done and even though it was painful, I really liked it. It made me feel brand new and very strong.

What do you want to say to other kids who are in the same situation as you are?
I want to say: never give up. I know that it is really hard and sometimes scary, but I know that I am stronger because of my disability. Cerebral Palsy is part of who I am and I am not embarrassed. I am still little and I have a lot until I get to be your size but I know one day that I will be taller than you and I will make everyone proud.