Category Archives: New Experiences

Getting back to it…in Barcelona

1514429_10201982017765341_179960384_n (1)
El ensanche, (the expansion) near the Plaza de Espana in the center of Barcelona. What a view, I am so taken by this city,

Hi everyone!

Happy 2014–I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and feels ready to take on a new year of school, work, successes, and discoveries. I know I am!

Just a quickwrite for now–

I am getting back into the swing of things after a nice break, I was pretty sick for most of dec-jan but I am back in action, and out of the country! I’m adjusting to life here in Barcelona, Spain for the spring so expect more content to come your way! I just got past my jetlag, and am improving my Spanish everyday since I am living with a host family. Thanks for all of your comments, thoughts, messages, and inquiries. I plan to spend some time responding to all of your emails, but I appreciate your patience. 🙂

Please, if you haven’t already, “like” the TeenCP Facebook page here for more frequent updates, thoughts, discussions, and pics of my journey in Europe!

Take care, Katy

I spent a weekend in San Francisco and left my walking boot in a taxi cab…

1170859_10200915864392173_1111675425_n

….I felt as if I was consciously aware that I was about to become devastated in the next moment… The next few hours awoke inside of me, a very overpowering sense of helplessness. I was not in control, and like anyone else with cerebral palsy, control (whether physical or mental) is something we like to hold onto– if we are able to experience it, at all. So here I was, standing against this wall in my friend’s apartment about to be painfully aware that I had made the unfortunate mistake of forgetting the absolute most important item of my trip to the city…

Maybe it is my CP that manifested the following metaphor but nonetheless, here it is:

You know how there is the smallest moment of sheer panic when you fall… well, I’ve recently discovered that this moment briefly consists of the following two things: the second you realize you have lost your footing, and the second you understand you have actually fallen onto the ground. (And no, you were not pushed over, nor did you trip over any thing–you have simply, fallen.)
There is always those two moments that occur in every fall that I have had.
But there is also this “in-between” that slows the moment down and you find yourself almost saying out loud, “this is really happening, okay, I am falling…” Accepted. Well that is what I experienced when I realized I left my walking boot in a cab. I had fallen hard and that moment of in-between was anything but gracious and forgiving.
That night, my circumstances also found me unwell, as I had to sleep on the hard wood floor of my friend’s apartment because her bed had yet to arrive to her new place. “How lovely, no boot, no bed… My body was in for a good one tonight!” I thought. I woke up with sore shoulders, throbbing feet from the day before, and my spirits were low. However, my earlier sense of helplessness from “the fall” was momentary and did not stop me from calling the yellow cab company to insist that they track down the cab that had my boot. I had little hope that I would find it, but my logic persisted that it must still be out there, sitting in the trunk of that cab we took from only a few blocks away. How hard could it be, with all the information I had given them? By the afternoon, I still had not heard from the cab company after about five phone calls to the lost and found line. They must’ve known who I was already, but I didn’t care. They needed to know that my boot wasn’t about to be tossed away. Well, for the next two days in the city, I was without the walking support I needed to combat those concrete hills and fast pace stride that was necessary for street walking. I was truly devastated as time wore on; that boot was my sense of individual mobility and I grew bitter and frustrated without it. Anyone with CP can relate to this feeling, I am sure. I need this boot not only for orthopedic support that CP sometimes requires, but also because my foot is still healing from surgery weeks before and I knew all of this walking could cause a setback for me. I was worried. The cab company lost & found was closed over the weekend and so my trip was shortened by a full day in the city due to having lost my boot.
Looking back only days later, well rested and calm, I am at the point where I am just happy to be out of that situation; but my boot still hasn’t been returned to me or my friend and the likelihood that it will be feels less and less.  I’ve learned to be a bit more responsible about my items, but to also not let something like that get me so down just because the pace of my trip has changed.  It was just…an experience, one that I will never forget, and one that made me more resilient. And yes, for those who are wondering, I have a back-up boot here at home, but I still want to put myself at ease, and get that boot back in my possession! It is now Monday morning, and I am preparing myself for a day of phone calls to get that boot back…. Wish me luck!!
Have a great week TeenCP friends, I will be announcing our next guest blogger very soon!! I hope everyone enjoys their last few weeks, or days left of summer break. 🙂
Take care, Katy

UCP National Awards Dinner & Celebration

april 2013 iphone 079    april 2013 iphone 077

Hi Everyone!

 I am dedicating this post to my mother and father, because you are the best (obviously) and I love you both so much! Thank you for supporting me in all that I do in life, I don’t know where I would be without your patience, your inspiration, and encouragement over the years. 

I hope all is well on this lovely Friday afternoon! It is a beautiful 85 degrees out today, can you say summertime? Ahh, the sun is my love. Soooo…. I finally have a chance to sit down and write to you all, about last weekend down in San Diego. Where to begin? Well for those of you who don’t know already, I was awarded the United Cerebral Palsy National “Outstanding Youth of the Year” award for 2013!! I was very excited to be nominated by the UCP center here in Orange County, and I found out I would be receiving the award a few weeks ago. Still hasn’t hit me yet!

I think this is one of the moments that I’ll never forget–it was very surreal for me to be recognized on the national level for all my efforts over the years! I felt so special, and so honored to be attending with such inspiring CP peers and volunteers. I was amazed at how all of these people come together to work toward bettering the CP community for all of us. To be quite honest, I felt fairly unprepared for this event! It was a “bigger deal” than I imagined, and once I arrived I started to realize what kind of night I was in for! Everyone I met somehow knew my name, and knew I was being honored with this title. I was so flattered, but at the same time, it made me feel so proud of myself! I have enjoyed so much, getting to connect with all of my TeenCP friends that I hardly find this something to be awarded for, at times. But this night really put it all into perspective. I was greeted by several important people from the UCP National office from Washington D.C. and then met with actor (Breaking Bad) R.J. Mitte and co-host TV actress Cheryl Hines. What a cool experience! My parents and I were seated along with our friends from the UCP-OC center. For any of the other awardees reading this right now, congratulations to you all, and thank you for your dedication to improving the lives of others with and without CP! I was so moved and inspired by your words of encouragement as you shared your personal stories. What a great night we all had.

As for myself, I hadn’t prepared much of a “speech” in comparison to the other awardees, but I think I managed to send out my thank you’s and blessings before I got off the podium. Part of me wishes I had said more and told more of “my story” behind TeenCP and my efforts, but just hearing the audience’s loud and supportive applause left me warmhearted and a little bit speechless! Of course, my legs started to shake immediately…nerves and CP aren’t the best combo, as I’m sure many of you know! So I just want to extend my thanks to everyone who attended this conference, who took time out of their busy schedule to fly in and discuss important issues related to CP and disabilities. I didn’t have a center like UCP when I was younger, and seeing all of these people there for “my” cause made me feel so incredibly happy. To know that there are resources out there for families and young children with disabilities gives me great comfort. Again, thank you everyone at the UCP National Conference for your dedication, and also for believing in what I do. I think it is so important to raise awareness about all the young adults with CP that are coming into our world. We all can make a difference if we just belief in our potential, right? Sharing the positive and negative aspects of CP is also so important, I feel because it shows others that they are not alone in their struggles, and that there is always something about life to look forward to. We are all here to learn, to love, and to grow–and I’m just here to share that with everyone! I wouldn’t be here writing to you all today if it wasn’t for all the support and positive feedback I have received over the years. My TeenCP friends have guided me just as much as I attempt to guide others! It gives me great pleasure, writing, speaking, and sharing about my experiences because I know that maybe I making someone smile, or feel more at ease in that moment. Thank you, everyone for allowing me to do so.

As I am entering my 20’s, I feel more and more comfortable with my body and who I am becoming–but I always know I have a long way to go each and every day–and knowing that I have my online community to share that experience with makes me breathe easier at the end of the day. People often ask how I feel about being this “figure” for young teens and young adults, and I am never quite sure how to respond to that question. It is a blessing to be considered a role model, and I think that last weekend at the UCP dinner was a confirmation of that discovery; a real turning point for me is to realize that the voice that I have as a young woman with Cerebral Palsy is one that people listen to and respond to. I become emotional as I write this now, and I think it is because it is all so happily overwhelming for me, to feel like a leader. It brings me joy, pride, and confidence; confidence that I did not have 4 years ago, when I began blogging as a teen with CP!

In conclusion, I am also happy to announce that in the next few weeks I will have an article featured in four local Orange County Magazines that discuss my contribution to the CP community and what it is like to have CP as a college student! I hope to see an online version that I will be able to share with you all. Check back in, in the next few weeks and “like” the TeenCP Facebook Page!

Thanks for reading, have a beautiful weekend, my beautiful people!

-Katy

311675_10151570865134082_1140912129_n

RJ Mitte, Me (Katy Fetters), and Cheryl Hines!

TeenCP in Argentina!

Hi All,

I hope the month of January has treated you well. I know 2013 has been off to a crazy start for me! I spent the first 3 working on a project in Buenos Aires, Argentina with a small class. We built an adobe home…among many other things! What a life changing experience that was for me on so many levels. I will definitely be posting more soon…. But for now…

This is a brief post about my experience abroad that I wrote for an academic blog which showcased our efforts! It had a word maximum, otherwise I think we all know I would’ve said more haha.

You can also check out the blog I put together here… who knew four years of blogging would come in handy! 🙂

http://learningcluster-argentina2013.blogspot.com/

Katy Fetters, Class of 2015

Walking the Streets of Buenos Aires

I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived in Buenos Aires, but I prepared myself to do a lot of walking. I had just bought new nike running shoes to do all my walking in as much comfort as possible. What I noticed immediately was that the sidewalks were so poorly paved, I had to watch my every step. There were large cracks in the pavement, uprooting trees, large piles of dirt, glass, and concrete just lying off to the side of the walkway due to the constant, ongoing construction. The reason I was so conscious of the sidewalks and streets in Buenos Aires is because I have Cerebral Palsy, a physical condition that affects my balance and coordination skills in my legs. I can get around pretty well, but when I know I have a full day of walking ahead of me in a foreign city, it can feel pretty daunting. As we began walking around the city and seeing all of the different and beautiful types of buildings, I tired easily but I didn’t want to miss out on anything! I just accepted the fact that I just had to do the best I could do with walking, and remain conscious of my physical health. I always had to be extra careful in certain areas where road construction and development was always at work. There were certainly nice areas of the city that I found very pleasant to walk around in, but that was not always the case.

The neighborhood we stayed in has uneven sidewalks and I felt like it would be a death trap for someone with CP or any other physical disability that inhibits walking abilities. This awareness led me to really question the attention toward people with disabilities in the city, and if they even have access to easy transportation around the city. Mobility is always an issue for someone with CP, so I began to wonder what type of system was in place for accessibility and mobility for people with physical handicaps. I started to look for handicap signs for parking, or buses, subways ect, and only saw a grand total of 3. Yes 3 handicap signs… I noticed one across the street from our hostel for a larger parking spot, one on a widened bus door, and one on a restaurant’s walkway ramp. With that said, I was not impressed. How frustrating! What type of government can allow such real issues go overlooked? It made me think: What if someone was tragically restrained to a wheelchair one day but had lived their whole lives taking the subte to work, school, and home? They simply could not live in Buenos Aires any longer due to their condition. Part of me was very quick to assume that the government just doesn’t care. They don’t want to invest the time, nor the money to give the disabled community the freedoms they deserve. The other part of me is willing to question if the government and the people of Buenos Aires simply just don’t know about disabilities.Our class interviewed with a young woman who, like me, is also 20 years old and is in college. I asked her how the majority perceived peoples with disabilities and she kind of dismissed my question out of ignorance for any solid answer.  Once I realized this, I wanted to know more about any government or social action put into place concerning the rights of peoples with disabilities in Argentina. Here in the United States, we have the ADA, or the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990 that gives peoples with all kinds of handicaps the civil right to accessibility, education, service, independence ect… However, the only really solid piece of information that I came across was a conference on international action for disabilities. It was held in 2005 at the US Congress in which Argentine government representatives participated and declared their awareness of issues pertaining to this topic. No action was put into place at that time, and after having gone to the nation’s largest city, I still can’t help but wonder if anything or anyone will ever change….

My TeenCP New Year Resolution

Hi all,

I hope everyone had a great holiday with their families and friends! My family and I always keep it pretty low-key here, we just enjoy spending time with each other because we all are so busy with our own lives these days that it is rare that all six of us are together. 🙂

Anyway, I was thinking I’d share my New Years resolution with you with only a few hours left of 2012. If you have already  seen my latests video blog or “vlog” then you know that I have a slight stress fracture in my CP foot which means I will need to be off my feet more from now on since this will be my 2nd fracture in nearly 7 months! (For links to my vlogs, see above headings on homepage!) So with my physical health in mind, I want to make it my goal for 2013 to learn how to swim. I know it will be a better alternative than running for cardio and it is low-impact so my feet can be happy again! I am looking forward to feeling healthy once again and taking care of myself in the meantime. As of now I am going to focus on stretching and wearing my brace at night so I can relieve some of the pressure in my foot so the fracture can heal. Maybe I can avoid surgery this time around but only time will tell! Do any of you guys swim? What do you think?

I am leaving for Buenos Aires, Argentina in a week  for a research course and I am a little nervous about all the walking I will be doing, but I just bought a nice pair of nike shoes to bring with me and had insoles for my shoes made custom to my feet. I think that will give me as much comfort possible during my travels in the city. Me and my colleagues will be conducting research on sustainable housing and urban development in comparison to housing developments here in Orange County, CA–it should be a great project! During our stay we will also attempt to build a sustainable structure out of adobe bricks and other recyclable materials. I will be creating a blog for the course along with the others so maybe I will put up a link to our work for those of you who are interested!

I’ll be back soon– Take care! Have a safe New Year celebration! Cheers so a happy and healthy 2013. 🙂

-Katy

P.S. I am still taking guest bloggers so please contact me by email (see above column) if you are interested! Thanks, TeenCP.