Today, I'm going to take you back to April 2016.
About a week after I discovered SDR, I also came across a video of a guy working with a child who was about a year post-SDR (although I didn't know it at the time). The video wasn't fancy. It just captured this man and one kid in a gym in the UK working together to figure out how to walk after the boy had built new and true strength in his legs in the year following SDR.
Up and down the room they walked - this kid unsure, fearful and entirely NOT convinced that he could do what this guy was asking him to - move in a new way on his own without the canes he'd always depended on. I could FEEL the fear in that child because I've felt it too and I know fully what it's like to wonder if you can actually trust your legs to carry out the mission that your physical therapist has chosen for the day!
Gradually, step by wobbly step the fear faded though, and confidence took hold. This guy through his firm prompts and directions, guided the kid to do what he had never done before. And eventually, as the video showed over the course of two weeks of hard work, those cane-free independent steps were just as real as the giant smile that was permanently etched onto that little boy's face. The video stuck with me at the time and sparked something that I couldn't quite put words to. All I knew that this man wasn't just another therapist. I've worked with well over 30 of them in my life, so I know a good one when I see them.
There was something really special about him. He clearly had a God-given gift for doing this work and a unique ability to connect with the kid in the process, too. I soon found more videos that told the same story over and over again. There was no magic wand to make those steps happen. This guy just took his extensive knowledge of human movement, combined it with focused, targeted exercises and applied it to a kid with CP who was asked to put in a LOT of hard work.
It wasn't long before I learned that this man just happened to also be connected with the SDR team in St. Louis and that he had dedicated his career to working with CP kids around the world. I then discovered that he had a therapy centre in the UK.
I didn't know why at the time but something clicked and I thought, "how neat would it be to meet this guy one day and maybe work with him if I could?" It was a fleeting, pie-in-the-sky thought that came months before I even decided to move ahead with SDR - but I remember it clearly to this day. I wrote it down in my "bucket list journal" that morning and thought - one day, just maybe, it might happen that I could meet and work with Mike. It's not every day that you feel compelled to connect with someone half-way across the world simply because of a YouTube video, but I did.
Flash forward to this past Wednesday night. I found myself driving down with my Aunt at the last minute, to meet Mike in person at a gathering arranged in Pickering with other SDR families in Ontario - just a year and a half from when that spark went off in my mind. I couldn't help but smile at the wonder of it all.
Mike shared his experiences and approach to working with SDR kids and families, took time to answer all of our questions, and reminded me clearly of why that spark went off all those months ago. He lives fully by the belief that we are all so much more capable than we think we are, that fear will sabotage you at every turn if you let it, and that all of the things that are worth it in life can be achieved when we dream big, stop making excuses and just do the work.
I'm still smiling from that night, because at every turn, I am reminded that SDR is meant to be on my path. Whenever I start to be doubtful or fearful about this journey, the Universe reminds me in both subtle and profound ways that things are lining up just how they are meant to and that in the end, nothing is ever random. I just need to trust in the process and keep doing the work to get to St. Louis.
Mike, thank you for taking time to meet with our Canadian families this week, for giving me that motivational kick in the butt I needed, and for everything you do to help those in the CP community to unlock their potential. It was a dream come true meeting you, and I look forward to the day when I get to work with you after my SDR surgery - it will happen, I'm certain of it!
To learn about Mike Poole and the amazing work he does with kids and families through his "Walk This Way" Therapy Centres, check out the video below!