Janiah, is an almost 6 year old that is described by her therapist as sweet and fun, but also very competitive and a hard worker. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Janiah has had challenges with her legs and walking independently, as well as with some fine motor tasks. What she also has though, is a group of people that could not be more dedicated to loving on her and helping her to reach her full potential.
Her family is one such group of people. Because of her difficulties walking independently, Janiah’s dad Todd has always faithfully carried Janiah around on his hip, despite tension in her hips and legs which can make getting her up there challenging. Motor challenges such as these brought them to see Dr. Tobias Tsai at Levine Children’s Hospital. It was Dr. Tobias who recommended that Janiah try hippotherapy. While Todd was on board, his initial thoughts were that it would be a fun activity for Janiah, and that maybe it would help her loosen up her hips. However, right after beginning physical therapy at Shining Hope Farms in January, he along with other people in Janiah’s life saw a huge difference. They witnessed her core get stronger and as a result they began to see her sitting up straighter. She even began climbing stairs better.
What also began to blossom were her relationships. When Janiah and her older sister Keke joined their forever-family 3 years ago, Janiah was nearly non-verbal. Interaction within relationships was a struggle for her, but slowly she began opening up, first to her horse Sammy, and then eventually to her physical therapist Leslie. Now you can see that Janiah and Leslie clearly have a special bond. When Janiah had to switch locations and ride a new horse she told her dad that she hoped her new horse Desmond was a unicorn. Wanting Janiah to feel welcome and comfortable Leslie and the rest of the staff made her wish a reality!
Fast forward to today, and Janiah is almost a year into physical therapy at Shining Hope Farms. During the course of her treatment, she has made some incredible quality of life improvements. One of the most significant ones being that she is now able to walk independently with a walker for short periods. Her dad explains that, “Hippotherapy has been the core to Janiah’s success with independent walking.” Her day-to-day life with her family has improved as well. She is now able to sit for meals at restaurants and sit on the couch with her family without slumping over or slipping off. While these are things that may seem trivial to someone without disabilities, the ability to be included in day-to-day activities with your family and peers is incredibly meaningful.
When looking towards the future, Todd says he dreams that in a few years Janiah might be able to walk completely on her own, but that right now, “I can’t imagine not having Shining Hope Farms, it means everything to our family.”
Would you consider giving $24 to feed Janiah’s horse Desmond? $24 will feed Desmond for one week! Desmond is a perfect match for Janiah because we are able to easily adjust the pace of his movement according to her postural control each day.
Our goal for this #GivingTuesdayCLT is to feed all of the “Gentle Giants that Help Our Clients,” so that children like Janiah can continue receiving their amazing benefits (the majority, with no out of pocket costs to their family)? Donations are accepted now through Giving Tuesday on November 27.