White woman with short dark hair in wheelchair on orange background

I have CP and I am capable 

Join us as we delve into the little understood world of cerebral palsy (CP) through a series of enlightening videos titled “What is cerebral palsy?” hosted by Georgina Henry and Tash Garrity, passionate researchers, and advocates for disability inclusion, and featuring others with cerebral palsy, like master crafter Rachel Pereksles. 

Rachel admits it’s not easy having CP, but she lives a happy, fulfilling life thanks to the support of her friends and family. And having a positive attitude and sense of humour really help her.

Rachel has Spastic quadriplegia with dystonia and is a GMFCS (Gross Motor Function Classification System) level 5. She needs help with all her daily activities and requires a lot of equipment and technology, including a power wheelchair to get around, and an eye gaze device to communicate.  

“People assume because I am nonverbal, I do not understand everything like everybody else.” 

Rachel has been part of CPA (Cerebral Palsy Alliance) for most of her life and built an amazing community through the people she has met. She’s accessed a range of therapies and technologies through CPA, including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  

When she started school, her therapists were also important in educating the teachers and support workers regarding Rachel’s physical wellbeing, communication, feeding and manual handling. 

Over time, Rachel has gradually built her confidence and independence . When she was younger, she stayed in CPA Respite over a weekend, once a month. She also had fun relationships with the support workers and had sleepover opportunities with girls her own age. Respite was not only good for Rachel but allowed her mum, Rene, to have a couple of days to relax or do other activities, knowing Rachel was well cared for.

Rachel now works in a co-working environment twice a week where she has 1 on 1 support with her activities in an order fulfilment hub. In her spare time, she likes to be creative; with interior design projects, and craft on Fridays at CPA Masterclass. 

Rachel’s philosophy is “If I want to, I will (with support).” She also reciprocates the support she receives and considers herself a good listener. In fact, kindness is a quality she really values in herself and others. 

The sky is literally the limit for Rachel, who’s been skydiving, goes to concerts and loves comedy. Travel is one of her passions, and her next trip is to New Zealand, with 10 young adults and 7 support workers.  They have lots of fun activities planned in Auckland and Rotorua including an SFX workshop showing special movie effects and dinner at the top of the Sky Tower. Most of all, she’s looking forward to soaking in the heated (and smelly!) pools in Rotorua. 

Keen to find out more about cerebral palsy? Head to the “What is cerebral palsy” web page for more information and to watch the video explainer series.