Pitt Town teen speaks out

Brave and determined Pitt Town resident, Jamie Whitworth, has already had 30 surgeries in her lifetime.

The 21-year-old has been left with a limp, very little balance and learning difficulties as the result of spina bifida.

The condition occurs when the spinal cord fails to fully develop in the early weeks of a baby’s growth.

The condition affects 5000 Australians.

As part of Spina Bifida Awareness Week — September 1-7 — Ms Whitworth will travel to schools and childcare centres around the Hawkesbury with the ‘‘Spinasaurus’’ mascot to talk about the condition.

‘‘Having grown up in Hawkesbury my whole life, I believe many people don’t completely understand the severity of the disability,’’ Ms Whitworth said.

‘‘As an ambassador and strong advocate of people with a disability, I just want to raise awareness and understand how we, as a community, can better understand, promote and champion people living with it so they feel part of a harmonious and inclusive society.’’

Ms Whitworth said the condition caused a build-up of spinal fluid on the brain (hydrocephalus) when she was born.

‘‘I’m so grateful that I can still walk because nearly half of people affected need walking aids or can’t walk at all,’’ Ms Whitworth said.

‘‘It was very tough growing up because I was constantly bullied throughout high school which caused me to leave early.

‘‘I was excluded from all sporting activities and had lots of trouble learning at the same pace as other students.

‘‘My only comfort now is being able to help people with spina bifida and their families get the services and resources they need to manage.’’

With the help of Northcott Disability services, people can find out more on spina bifida and the support available.

Details: Kayleen Flood, 98905214.

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