Man and woman in wheelchairs laughing to camera.

I have CP and I’m in love

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 others with lived experience, including Sheila Thomas.

Sheila lives in supported independent living with her partner Zell and 9 housemates. She says it feels like a big family, and she feels very lucky to have great staff to help her to live as independently as possible.  

“It is fantastic being a part of the CPA community. CPA has helped me live in my amazing house, which is how I met my boyfriend of 6 years. I have made many friends and CPA has even helped me to represent Australia in Boccia.” 

Sheila uses an electric wheelchair to mobilise independently, and needs help transferring to and from her bed, chair and commode. She also eats and drinks with the use of a PEG; a little tube which goes directly into her tummy. Sheila’s CP also means she can’t talk but she can still communicate. 

“People assume that just because I can’t talk using words, that I can’t communicate. I can easily communicate by vocalising, using hand signals, and with my communication book which has pictures, words, phrases, letters and numbers.” 

 Sheila’s philosophy is to “make the most out of every day and be as happy as possible.” She’s really inspired by boyfriend Zell because he works so hard and is always happy. And to Sheila, her greatest strength is her sense of humour, and making people around her laugh.  

At the moment, Sheila is trying to tick off as many things from her bucket list in 2024 as she can – one of them being travel. She and Zell have planned their first holiday together to Manly, one of Sydney’s iconic beaches. She’s really looking forward to staying in a nice hotel and exploring Manly and the city. Other goals on that list are meeting Ronan Keating, her favourite singer, anyone from her favourite TV show; Home and Away, and a player from her favourite sports team, the Newcastle Knights.  

Sheila would like to reassure any parent whose child has been diagnosed with CP that:  

“It will be ok! Your child will likely still be able to do the things that other children do, it just might look different, or be with the help of aids or technology.”

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.