November 22, 1999
Marina Blake is from Baytona, Newfoundland. She is 39 years old and has three brothers and one sister. Marina was born with Cerebral Palsy. She attends classes at the College of the North Atlantic's Literacy Outreach Centre in Grand-Falls. Today, November 22, is Marina's birthday. Happy Birthday, Marina !
My name is Marina Blake and I am 39 years old. When I was seven months old, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. In spite of my disability, my three brothers and one sister made life as normal as possible for me. I used a stroller until I was too big for it, then I received my first wheelchair. Being in a wheelchair made my life a little different from that of my brothers and sister. However, they made it possible for me to be included in as many activities as possible--from fishing to snowmobiling.
My first year at school was sad for both my family and me. My family realized that I would not be able to attend school with my brothers and sister. I would have to attend a special school that was about 400 kilometres from where I live. I was seven years old and would only see my parents for the summer break. I would have to stay in a boarding institution and be away from home on my own for the first time. I hoped that the five-hour drive to St. John's, where the school was located, would never end.
Once I became adjusted to the routine of school life and speech therapy, I really began to enjoy my time at school. I made many friends and learned many new things. The hardest part of my school life still was having to go back after summer break. As you can imagine, my parents and I would be really upset. I persevered, however, and eventually I was able to move back home and pursue my education. This was indeed a happy time for both my parents and me.
At this time, through the help of the Social Services Department, I was able to get a tutor to come for two hours and then four hours a week to help me with Basic English and math. This, however, was not enough for me. I wanted to be more involved in the community and school like everyone else. This goal was realized when I received my first power wheelchair. I now had "legs," I could move around without depending on anyone else. I am now on my third power wheelchair--the last one being designed especially for me. It's more powerful and, therefore, gives me more speed!!
I now live with my sister and her family and am attending school at the College of the North Atlantic's Literacy Outreach Centre. I can now read and write and for the first time in my life I can go to bed with a book and read it! I was very nervous when I started attending the Literacy Centre but I was excited too. The instructors treat me as another student and I am quite pleased with this. I have my own computer, as well, and this enables me to be more independent.
I would like to say to those who find themselves in a situation similar to mine: Don't give up, don't despair, and keep your chin up. Just remember you are special and you deserve a chance. If anyone would like to write me my address is:
PO Box 113