A Westlake, Texas teen wants to prove that although she has cerebral palsy, she can do what other teens do, even if it takes her longer than average. She’s also a part of and co-founder of a popular foundation to help bring awareness and education to the disorder.
The Star-Telegram reports that along with the help of her parents, Alyssa Phillips, 17, created the Alyssa V. Phillips Foundation, a non-profit organization that not only aims to bring awareness to the disorder, but also help people with cerebral palsy live a more fulfilling and independent life.
Since its launch in 2012, the foundation has raised thousands of dollars that’s helped with a number of cerebral palsy treatment options, including modified equipment, physical therapy, and more.
Michelle, Alyssa’s mother, said the idea for the foundation came about after she spent countless hours looking online for doctors, therapists, and specialized schools for cerebral palsy. She started looking in 2002, shortly after Alyssa was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 2. According to Michelle,
“You spend every spare moment searching online for answers and going to doctor’s appointments, consultations, therapies and procedures. It can feel like a maze.”
Alyssa’s dad, Paul H. Phillips III, said that his daughter has been strong and independent since a young age. After a series of Botox injections and tendon extensions in her legs, Alyssa began walking on her own at age 5. By 4th grade, she was creating projects to help teach other students about cerebral palsy. According to her father,
“She has always been a huge advocate. People will wonder about her ability, and she shows time and again that she not only has ability but a tremendous drive.”
One of Alyssa’s passion is creating art. She doesn’t let her disability slow her down, although she does admit that at times it can be difficult. She recalled when created an oil painting of her late horse. His name was Jack and he was a huge part of her life.
“It was really, really hard to do. But it was fun.”
As she nears the end of her high school career at Southlake’s Fusion Academy, Alyssa is considering becoming a teacher or an artist. Whatever career path she chooses, she’ll continue to work with her foundation and continue to spread awareness about cerebral palsy. Michelle added that the goal is to help other kids with cerebral palsy follow their dreams.
“Cerebral palsy does not define Alyssa or anyone else. People with cerebral palsy are capable of anything they choose. That’s what we want people to understand.”
On September 22, Alyssa and her family are scheduled to participate in North Texas Giving Day (NTGD) 2016. NTGD is the largest single fundraiser in North Texas for combined non-profit organizations. The goal is to raise money through donations, which will be used to help others with cerebral palsy. According to the official Alyssa V. Phillips Foundation website, the event “will help and support people with Cerebral Palsy (“CP”) with a focus on assisting children with CP, the families of children with CP, or any individual impacted by CP in maximizing independence.”
The family will also take part in the VCC Cares Charity Golf Classic, in Dallas. To learn more about Alyssa or to get involved or donate to any of the charities, visit her official website for additional information.
In the meantime, Alyssa reminded people, while speaking with the Star-Telegram, that she can do what others do, and plans to live her life as independently as possible.
“I can do everything that everyone else can do. It just might look different for me.”
Watch Alyssa and her mom below, as they give an important message about teens and others with cerebral palsy.