Episode 9 | Ahead of the (Learning) Curve | Lia Sintras’ Story

Episode 9 | Ahead of the (Learning) Curve | Lia Sintras’ Story
Posted on Tue 26 Oct 2021

A cerebral (palsy) conversation with Lia Sintras, Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) client and Kosciuszko conqueror

Lia has lived with cerebral palsy since she was just a year old, which hasn’t stopped her for a moment. From climbing Mount Kosciuszko to walking into her end of school formal (after over 500 hours of training no less), Lia knows better than most that – as she puts it – “Nothing is impossible. You just need to find people that make it possible.”

Lia takes us through the challenges and highlights of her school years, the importance of finding champions to back you, and what she’s working on to advocate inclusion for everybody who lives with a disability.

Listen to Episode 9 here: 

Watch Lia's Dream and the special moment where Lia walks into her school formal 

Find out about Lia's work as a champion for CPActive

Watch Lia and find out about her advocacy work at the CPActive launch 

Episode Transcript

Andy McLean: Hello and welcome to Cerebral Conversations. I'm Andy McLean.

Ben McAlary: and I'm Ben McAlary. Hello. In this episode, Andy and I speak with 23 year old Sydneysider Lia Sintras, who is many things, she's a rabid rugby league fan and supports the Sydney City Roosters. She's a keen tennis player, a twin sister and a conqueror of mountains.

Andy McLean: Yeah, Lia was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was one. And in this episode, she shares her journey since then and reflects on inclusivity and accessibility in education and joining forces with allies to make the seemingly impossible possible. We also discuss rites of passage for young people and one in particular that Lia and her old schoolmates will never forget.

Ben McAlary: Yeah, we've really been looking forward to sharing this episode with you. It's a special one, so let's get started. Lia, thank you very much for joining us today.

Lia Sintras: No worries guys, thank you so much for having me.

Ben McAlary: Lia, can you tell us a little bit about your cerebral palsy?

Lia Sintras: Sure. My specific type of cerebral palsy is cerebral spastic quadriplegia, which the simplest way that I can put it is, there's spaticity in all four of my limbs, my muscles are really right, my movement's affected, I can't walk independently but I can walk with aids. I need support workers day to day to help me with showering, help me with going out and about, all of that type of stuff.

Ben McAlary: To begin this podcast, we wanted to talk about your experiences at school. Can you just share with us where you went to school?

Lia Sintras: Sure. I went to high school at Burwood Girls High School. It was a great high school. Really, really, really tricky process because we were trying to work out do I go to a special needs school with a special needs unit. Do I go to a mainstream school that has a special unit within, which in the end we decided that I'm going to mainstream school because there's really no reason why I couldn't. It was just trying to get people to understand my needs are going to be challenging. They're going to be difficult and we're going to need to work a bit harder to give me the mainstream education, but it's going to be worth it in the end.

Ben McAlary: Absolutely. And we'll talk about those challenges and experiences soon. But I wanted to talk briefly about what did your what was the reaction of your classmates when you when you went to secondary school?

Lia Sintras: So when I started high school, I was really young, so I didn't really understand what it would take and how confident within myself I need to be to achieve my goals and dreams. So for me, it was really tricky for me to educate people at that time around my disability and what special requirements I'd need: carers, curriculum schedule, classmates, all of that was very challenging for me to do. I was the first person with a physical disability to  go to that school so they literally had to start from scratch. They had to put in lifts, ramps, just for me to get around to all the classes and participate in class with everyone else. So I think that was a real testament to the willingness for them to have me at the school in the first place. And the fact that they didn't necessarily know what to do but they just needed that direction and guidance in order to help, but they were always willing to change, help and yeah make those adjustments so that I felt as included with everyone else, and that I didn't feel like my disability was a negative but a positive thing, so I really thank them for that.

Ben McAlary: Just want to go back briefly when you started high school. So in year seven, when the school started to build ramps and and do those sorts of things. How did you feel about that, you know, coming into a school that had had done that and this is the first time they've done it. How did that make you feel?

Lia Sintras: I think when I reflect right now, I was pretty shocked that the school was willing to go that far to make me feel accepted, to make you feel included, to completely basically put in new lifts and create new ramps. I mean, was I still had the journey to the classroom was still difficult, but at least I had those lifts. At least I had those ramps and might have taken them all but I would get there in the end and my teachers were like, really adaptive and willing to wait. And if I told them I might be a bit late , they would know that it would take a bit for me to get there, but I'd get there eventually in the end. So that was really amazing.

Andy McLean: It's pretty cool like you've got a personal legacy at that school, you know, like there are ramps and there are there are actually there's a physical manifestation of your time at the school, which will help other people in the future. And there's not a lot of people that can say that about their time at school. Can you give us some examples of how the school did sort of make you feel included and inclusive? And when I spoke about the school, not just the hierarchy at the school, but your peers and your students.

Lia Sintras: As I got older, I started to see the direction that I wanted to go in and they were willing to make an adaptive program for me in year 11 and 12 where in year seven to 10, it was I was still in the mainstream curriculum doing what everyone else can do, which was fantastic. But it was really overwhelming because I didn't necessarily. I understood what was going on, but it was just a really tricky and almost outdated curriculum for me to be working with just because of my disability and my limitations in my physical limitations, but also mental limitations as well. Which, to be honest, I wasn't really aware of back then as I think I was too young as well. But I think when we got to year 11 and 12, that was when they decided, OK, we'll adapt . So I ended up doing a life skills program, which was basically a simplified program adapted to me and my disability specifically. And it basically set me up for life and everything that I would need to know in my life and just simple things like paying for things, going out, asking people for help, learning how to read bills, all of that stuff that the the practicality that you're going to need basically every day life, which was fantastic because they did it in a way where I still had my own program, but I was still integrated with the rest of the class. So I think the real turning point was when my drama teacher in year 11 and my PE teacher in year 11 were willing to change and adapt their teaching skills to make me feel included and accepted in the class and integrate my program with the mainstream curriculum as well and make me feel like my disability wasn't a burden or wasn't an issue. And then I was just like everyone else. And even though I had a disability that made no difference whatsoever, it was just, I think now that I think about it their open mindedness and willingness to change and just keep an open mind with every thing like from day to day, everything would change. I think because drama and PE were really like physical subjects as well. I was kind of in the beginning told maybe this isn't the great idea and I should rethink the courses that I was taking. But I was so thankful that these two teachers really set a standard for the type of education that people with a disability should be getting. And it really made me want to just, like, stay in school and like, participate. And I think I really owe it to them for really setting the standard in the way people with a disability education should be done. I absolutely loved those two classes, mainly for the simple fact that I'd go into that class and I'd feel like my disability wasn't an issue and that it was there to the fact that they were willing to get to know me before they willing to get to know my disability. And I say that because I think it's really important that people get to know the person before they get to know the disability, because it's really tricky for someone to get to know your disability before they get to know you. Because the disability is so complex and everyone's disability' so different that if you didn't get to know the person first, then you're not going to be able to get through the disability if I'm being completely honest.

Andy McLean: Well, and the other thing too is that if people get to know you through your disability first then they come to that with a whole bunch of assumptions and misunderstandings and stereotypes, right? So as if you get to know the person, then that gets left to one side and then they can gradually kind of find out the what the correct facts are if that that makes sense.

Lia Sintras: Going back to those PE and Drama classes , it was the fact that my teachers were willing to make me part of the class that what my drama teacher would do is she would still have my curriculum with all the assessments that I had to do, but she would still integrate me into the rest of the class. So when we would be doing a warm up, she would say, OK Lia, you're going to be a part of this. If we were learning a play, she would take out a specific part of the play for me to learn. And then when everyone else did their HSC trial pieces and we had to perform in front of the class in front of tthe school and family and friends, she would actually get me to perform with them as part of the performance, but I just wasn't being graded because I wouldn't have a HSC at the end of it. But it still gave me all the skills, the ability to speak up, though I'm really trying to express ways of trying to remember all those lines and trying to, um yeah, just do what everyone else could do. Just because I have a disability doesn't mean that I couldn't do it. It was just that it would take me longer and be more difficult for me to comprehend what I actually had to do. But once I got there I was able to remember the lines I was able to deliver with the emotion and everything else that you need for a performance. And that was down to my teacher's willingness to make me part of the class and really not look at my disability and get to know me before the disability. Then my classmates were able to also see that Lia's Lia, take away the disability and this is what you have. And I think the other thing that was really amazing too was if we were using a prop for a play, much it was like a tractor or something. My teacher would use my chair as the actual tractor, so my classmates would have to integrate me in whatever activity they were doing so that I actually felt included in that as well. And I really had a really important part to play the re too.

Ben McAlary: Thinking about your wonderful drama and sport teachers when you were at school. What qualities did they have that you felt helped you the most? What was it that made them different? What what made those teachers so special?

Lia Sintras: It was really when I reflect on it now and it makes me quite emotional again. It was. It was a really open mindedness and willingness to make me a part of the cause, no matter what the circumstance was. If I was away for one day, my drama teacher would make sure that I 'd signed the permission so that I could still go to those performances without necessarily needing to be at school and just integrating me into the course, but also having my separate curriculum and adapting that in a way that I still got all the practical side. I'd still got the speaking I'd still got the plays, I'd still get to go to the plays, perform the plays, and that was the most daunting experience. I'd get so stressed, so sweaty, so nervous. But in a way, I just need to thank her for just never giving up on me and never putting up with my million excuses that I had back then and really just never giving up on me. Because the end result was amazing, and the reaction that I got from everyone when I finished was even more amazing. So I think if I'm reflecting on PE as well, it was the fact that my teacher basically did the same thing. It was her open mindedness, willingness because when I think about it PE is physical, but also a mental, well, side of it depending on what you're doing. So if we were outside playing a sport, she would always make sure that I was sitting on the sideline, but throwing a ball or doing chest passes, or whatever it was still having the fundamental skills that you needed for that game. But when someone got subbed out that when they would come over, throw the ball with me, and that would be that constant rotation. And I think that really made me feel like this is amazing because I'm so passionate about sport that there is no reason why people with a disability can't be in a mainstream school. But it's just the teachers and their friend open mindedness and willingness to make it happen, which I was so grateful that I had in those ways to use in high school.

Andy McLean: Would you have any advice for kids who are at school with cerebral palsy and indeed those who don't have cerebral palsy in terms of how they can best support people living with cerebral palsy when they're that, you know, their peers at school?

Lia Sintras: First, I'd probably say, as I said before treat people with cerebral palsy exactly the same way or a disability the same way that you treat everyone else because if you take them disability away, you have a normal person with normal feelings. Normal goals, normal expressions. It just takes us a lot more planning, more dedication, more time to get there. But there's no reason why we can't do it. We just need those people around us to help us achieve our goals, and there is absolutely no reason why we can't get there. So I'd just say, keep an open mind and just treat them exactly the same as you treat anyone else. And just don't be afraid, I know for me, and I can't really speak for anyone else when I say this. But just don't be afraid to ask questions to really get to know that person, because the more questions you ask, the easier it's going to be. But if you assume that when it becomes tricky because depending on the age that you are. I know when I was that young, I didn't have the skills or tools to be able to speak up for myself. I always thought I was a burden. I always thought this is too difficult. I couldn't achieve my goals and dreams . But now that I've grown up, there's absolutely no reason why I can't, I just need that team around me. To be positive, but if you want to be negative, I'm going to turn that into a positive regardless. So it's just simple things like that that I think. The education needs to start with us, and the more people that start educating people, the easier it's going to be because it's not that people don't know what to do, it's just that they're lacking that direction and education and tools that they need. But I think the more that we can mentor them, show them, but really get them to understand that if I'm looking at cerebral palsy specifically, there's so many different types. So there could be two people with cerebral palsy, but completely different set of circumstances, physical, mental and other disability on top of that. So even though we have the same disability, it's still so complex and varied. So you can't really come into the conversation with OK this is what cerebral palsy is because it doesn't necessarily work like that. And if I'm being completely honest, I'm still learning about cerebral palsy and the different types in the way that I can help people, but in reality it's just give us, give them, give people with cerebral palsy the chance t o speak for themselves. Give them the chance to show you what they mean. Give them the chance to tell you their hopes and dreams, and they'll eventually find that team, the people around them, it's going to take some time. But trust me when I say it is so worth it in the end.

Andy McLean: Yeah. And I think drama is one of those things that you can be quite it can be a transformative experience on it, you know? You know, it's a real achievement to like for everyone collaborating together as a cast to produce something and and put something on publicly. So it's a wonderful sort of learning experience in all kinds of ways. And you talked about some of them there.

Ben McAlary: Do you still do drama? Are you still on stage?

Lia Sintras: I'm not on stage per se, but I think the fundamentals that my teacher taught me in drama have helped me do t hings like these have helped me do speeches down further down the track in my life, really given me that confidence to be able to speak for myself, but also for other people that I'm doing now. And they're just fundamentals for everyday life, for expressing yourself, speaking up for yourself. All of that type of stuff that's really helped me in my everyday life. And I really need to thank my drama teacher for giving me those skills because I wouldn't be where I am now i f it wasn't for those skills as well.

Ben McAlary: Andy's daughters and my daughters love drama. They absolutely love it. And my 12 year old actually said to me recently that she's also a school captain of her school, and she said what she learns from drama just helps with everything her confidence, her ability to speak in public, talking to adults. She says drama has really helped her as well, so it's really those life lessons, which I think are wonderful, your year 10 formal was a pretty special occasion. Can you talk to us about what made it so special?

Lia Sintras: I still find this very tough to talk about and still to this day because it was such an amazing experience. It was such an amazing journey, but it was really down to so my exercise physiologist at the time Ange basically came up with this idea for me to walk into my year 10 formal , which at the time I was really nervous and worried about, only because I had never done this big before and then never really had people tell me that I could, they would always look at the negative before they looked at the positive. But with Ange it was always nothing was impossible. It was just about putting in the framework to make it possible. And she never gave up on me, which was amazing, cause I'd never really had that direction in life or known what I wanted to do. And I think if I think about it realistically, she gave me that direction. She was always the my favourite part of the day when I left school was knowing that she would come over, and that we would be achieving amazing things together . And it wasn't even sometimes we wouldn't even do exercise. It would just be someone there to talk to, someone to bounce ideas off, someone that is, look, just talk to and have someone there to really pick you up when you weren't at your best. And then when we actually came up with the plan to walk into formal, the more we thought about it, the more confident I actually became, because at no point did she give up on me. Those good days and bad days. We set out a plan to begin with, which was basically down to the basics of learning how to walk and then learning the fundamentals that I would need in order to walk that distance. So our sessions were based around. This is going to sound like an unusual thing to say, but it was based around the weather, if it was sunny outside, we'd go outside and I've got a hill at the front of house. So that was a challenge for the day. It was learning that all the strength that I needed, all the exercise that I needed, the background work that we had to do in the beginning. The home sessions that I had to do the enormity of what we were about to do, and all the hard work that would need to go into it and the commitment and dedication to each other to get it done.

Andy McLean: And that would have required. I mean, obviously, there's that there's the physical challenge that you gave yourself in the fitness work that you had to do and then you have the psychological challenge as well as psychological barriers as well. So what does it feel like? Mean, why don't you tell us so on the day of the formal came round? Talk us through what happened on the day.

Lia Sintras: It was a really nerve wracking day. Only because all the preparation hard work that we'd put into it, all the countless hours of training, all the like preparing mentally, physically on the actual day it was really amazing because we didn't actually tell my family that this was something that I was going to do. The only people that really knew were me , Ange, mum and my dad, but there the rest of our immediate family didn't know. So it was tricky trying to get them to come. To see me, but also not to spoil the surprise as well. And because at the time as well. One of my year advisors was leaving the school. So I thought that that was the perfect way to say good luck for the future and thank you for everything that you've done for me. And it was also a great thing to show my classmates and friends exactly what I do outside of school and how hard it is and how many hours of training this took. That day was really special. It was really nerve wracking because I didn't know how it was going to go. But again, Ange reassured me that everything was going to be fine. We trained for this , we'd prepared to the finest detail you could possibly think about. We'd done the training, we'd done the work. We'd done all the training that was necessary. All the physical stuff, but also the mental stuff as well. And really wrapping my head around how big of a deal this was. And that, yes, it was so tricky. And yes, there were times where I honestly wanted to give up. But again, she was always there. She was always there telling me that I can, not that I can't, and I think that was really amazing for me to have. And the constant support system that no matter how busy her schedule got, she she'll always be by my side and would always get through anything. All my goals and dreams that I had, nothing was impossible. It was just up to us, but more to me to get it done.

Ben McAlary: How long did you prepare when you were saying you, you were in training and you were preparing? Can you remember that the length of time that you went from when you started to to game day on graduation day?

Lia Sintras: It was usually like six months of training, preparing, going in and doing the bay run as well, because that's where we had long montages, which was very close to the bay run, actually on the bay run. So it was about getting out there, doing the bits of the bay run for endurance and really understanding how much time and strength it would take for might actually walk the 10 20 metres, whatever it was, I can't exactly remember. But I think that was the really amazing thing about our sessions, too. Like they were really practical, whether it was walking up the hill, whether it was hitting a ball with the tennis racket, whether it was doing it for your transfers here and there . But if anything did go wrong, I'd be prepared. And the other amazing thing about that, too, was this is going to sound like a crazy thing to say as well. But Ange actually taught me. Ways that if I was to fall. The best way to go about it and that's going to sound ridiculous to anyone listening, but it's also a safety thing as well. And for me to feel confident enough that if anything does wrong, she's going to be there, but I feel confident enough not to freak out, cause I'm going to hurt myself even more. It was down to her, her commitment, dedication to me, but also commitment and dedication to all my goals and dreams that we achieved together as well. So on the actual day I'll never forget this day for probably the rest of my life, only because it was time for me to walk into my formal and just the reaction from everyone, about the magnitude, the massive goal that I'd set myself. But just everyone was in tears, and I think that was the time that I really thought, OK, I can do anything I put my mind to. But it's just about having those positive people in my life that really pick me up on the good days and bad days. Really give me that reality check when I need to, but just never give up on me. And I've had so many amazing people to be able to do that. I think that was the reflection on the day it was just about reflecting on the massive achievement me and Ange had achieved. I had achieved what we achieved as a team . And then just to see my family's reaction as well, because they had no idea that I was doing it in the first place, they just could not believe it. One that I had kept a secret from them and two that I'd achieved this massive goal, and that I wasn't going to give up, no matter how hard it got. And it really did get hard at times . But again, that was down to Ange and never giving up on me , and my my family never giving up on me, never losing sight of that dream. But I think the more I think about it, it was the preparation that we literally had to write every step down and break it down into smaller steps so that it worked for me and my disability as well.

Andy McLean: You said everyone was crying. Did you cry as well?

Lia Sintras: I was really emotional, but I probably couldn't cry because that's when I would like lose focus of me trying to literally walk. I was so emotional. It was ridiculous. I just had to hold it in until I finished my formal, and then it all basically came out because I really had time to reflect and sit down and think about the magnitude of the goal that we just achieved as a team. And I would not have been able to do it without the team behind me.

Ben McAlary: Your energy and passion is so addictive and you can really hear it in your voice. But walking into your formal was one thing. Walking up mountains is another. Can you talk to us a little bit about your next goal? Can you sort of describe what took place then?

Lia Sintras: February 2019 Cerebral Palsy Alliance have a fundraiser, which was to walk up Mount Kosciuszko . So what would happen is, we would have a team of corporate sponsors, a nd then we would have a staff member from CPA to join our team, which I am so grateful that it was actually my exercise physiologist at the time with the CPA that joined my team. So it was basically the same process as walking into formal was, preparing it, writing it down, thinking about the parts that I wanted to walk, thinking about the terrain and thinking about what exercises you would need. Thinking of the mental and physical side of it as well, really breaking it down to the simplest of steps. I think when we started to train, it was walking on the treadmill, which I'd never done before, but it was also the open mindedness of my exercise physiologist, at the time to be like, this is what going to do. It's going to be challenging. But I'm here every step of the way and I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be part of your team, so I 'll be there on the day regardless. But it was also a great realisation because I'd never walked on the treadmill, so I was a bit hesitant and bit scared to . But as soon as we worked out the perfect plan for me, it became simple and it became easier, and I didn't feel like this is going to be too hard. I couldn't necessarily do anything else for the rest of the day after the session, but the successful feeling that I felt in the gym session and the difficulty was all worth it in the end. And I knew that every gym session leading up to would do a different thing. We had to work out which because I wanted to walk parts of it. But because of the terrain and the uncertainty of the terrain, we had to work out which part s were safe enough for me to walk. So we decided that I would walk the start run, a bit of the like rocky terrain. And then the other amazing thing was they actually had a wheelchair and made sure that I could sit in and my team could push me for the rest of the ride until I was ready to walk t he next part, which was a lmost at the end, but it was walking the the trek up to the peak, which the reaction from everyone was just again ridiculous in the sense of achievement that we all felt was amazing too, and to show people as well that just because we have a disability doesn't mean we can't do everything that everyone else can do. We still have the same hopes, dreams, goals as everyone else. It just takes m ore effort and more time to really adapt programs and therapy sessions and everything to that person's specific disability, which was amazing, and then I decided to walk the last step, which was the finish line, which the reaction from the crowd was again amazing. And it was so overwhelming that I started crying as we crossed the line and everyone was just crying along with me because again, it was the magnitude of what we'd just done. And the statement we were trying to make and then we would also sit there after we finish and clap everyone else over that finish line as well.

Andy McLean: How did it feel when you when you when you finally reached the top and you were looking out and you could see the view and all the people?

Lia Sintras: It was incredible. I can't really put into words, but I'm going to do my best. It was just knowing that all the hard work and effort and the time that we'd all put in the countless sessions once again was all worth it in the end. And I think walking that particular part was fantastic as well, because it was tough, but it was so worth it in the end. And just again, the team around me or would not have been able to do it without them. And I thank them so much for all the effort and time they put in because it was so worth it. And everyone was just so overjoyed and thrilled that we'd done what we 'd set out to do in the first place.

Andy McLean: Tell us a little bit about this passion that you have for sport because it runs deep, doesn't it?

Lia Sintras: It does run really deep. And if you ask my family, I don't be quiet about sport at all , but I think it's just I'm just generally passionate about sport. My favorite sports would have be tennis and NRL, cricket, would probably be my main three, but I just love playing it, I love watching it. I go to a tennis club called Civic Community Tennis in Surry Hills, and we have wheelchair tennis, able bodied  tennis, blind tennis, and all of that. And it's just really amazing to play sport that I love that I'm so passionate about, but if I t hink about it even more, and the fundamentals of tennis are perfect for cerebral palsy in itself because it's ball throwing, it's attention to detail and reaction times, all of that help with all that goal setting and just really that repetition of tennis and the mindset that you need for tennis is perfect. I've also been lucky enough to go to three out of the four majors for tennis, which is amazing as well. But really, it's down to. I just love tennis like everyone else. And the great thing is, I found people that love tennis just as much as I do. So we could sit there and we could talk about it for hours without feeling like I need to be quiet about it. Same with NRL. I love going to games, I'm v ery passionate about the Sydney Roosters. I put my full gear on. I love watching it. screaming at the TV. All that stuff that you normally do. I do all but also just going to the games , there's nothing like a live game of footy. Just you have nothing in common with the crowd except your love and passion for the game, which is amazing as well.

Ben McAlary: Who's your favourite tennis player?

Lia Sintras: Oh, this one, the tricky one. I'd probably have to say my favourite female tennis player is probably Ash Barty

Lia Sintras: because she's got the most amazing variation on her game and just the way she goes about it on and off the court is amazing. She seems like the most amazing person.

Ben McAlary: Where is your passions lie at the moment?

Lia Sintras: My passions lie around sport, but also educating, inspiring people with the disability and really helping them through the t he challenges that I went through at the age of seven stage with the life and just trying to really educate them and just let them know that yes, it is very tricky and yes, there are going to be times where you want to give up and you'll be lacking in direction, and not know why you're doing it in the first place. But again, it comes down to the team that you have around you and just really rely on those people around you to pick you up when they're not having a great day and put you back on that path. I know that all throughout my life, I've struggled, but I think now I can say that I'm proud of the person that I've become. I'm really proud of the goals and dreams that I've had and have been able to stick. Stick, I stick by them no matter what. Never give up. And I think that's the key as well. But I wouldn't have been able to do it without the team around me. So in a way, this is a thank you to them for never giving up on me and just always believing in me and always giving me that reality check when I needed to as well. Because when you achieve your goals and dreams the feeling of doing that is amazing.

Ben McAlary: Lia, what's your next goal?

Lia Sintras: This is a tricky one because you've got quite a few, but the main one I'm working on at the moment is walking the Bay Run, which is seven ks, which is going to be really tricky. But again, it's the same thing. I've I've put a five year goal, but I think for me it's not about necessarily the time it takes, but it's figuring out how difficult it is going to be putting that preparation in. And if it takes longer, it takes longer. I'm more than happy and prepared for it to t ake longer. I'm more than happy for me to be able to push in my manual chair because it's easier but then walk a bit. But it's also going back to those gym sessions, with my exercise physiologist at the moment and working out the perfect way to make it because it will happen. It's just trying to work out the perfect way to make it happen, whether that's in five years or 10 years, 15 years. I can't tell you but it's going to happen.

Ben McAlary: Lia, it's been an absolute privilege to get to know you today. We've really enjoyed this discussion. Thank you very much for your time and for your great storytelling as well.

Lia Sintras: Thank you for having me guys.

Ben McAlary: You've been listening to Cerebral Conversations, a podcast produced by Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Andy McLean: To learn more, check out the show notes to this episode over at cerebral palsy.org.au/ cerebral conversations.

Ben McAlary: And if you enjoyed the show, please rate or review on your favorite podcast platform.

Andy McLean: And to join the conversation, f ollow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Ben McAlary: Thanks again for listening.

The music for this podcast was kindly supplied by Ocean Alley. Check out the band's music on Bandcamp or visit oceanalley.com.au

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Welcome to the wrap up episode of Season One of Cerebral Conversations. Here are some highlights and never heard before stories from the great minds at Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) and our special guests and hosts.

It’s been a weirdly wonderful time for me – you might’ve noticed I didn’t share a column with you in October? That’s because I was racing toward the finish line of my university degree, a double in Arts & International Studies if anyone was wondering. Four years of my life that unfolded in ways I never could’ve predicted.