By Gymnastics NSW
Sydney girl Emily Collett has struggled with complications since she was a toddler – when a medical emergency resulted in the loss of her entire intestine.
Despite years of multiple, and lengthy, hospital admissions, one of the most difficult experiences was fracturing both her legs when she was six.
Due to osteoporosis causing brittle bones, the fractures were severe and left her in a wheelchair for several months. Through it all, the now 12-year-old continued to dream of dancing and gymnastics.
“I was not able to walk or do any kind of weight bearing,” she said. “For me this was really hard, because I was still going to school and still wanted to somehow dance, run around with my friends and keep up with my friends and family.”
Because the injury left her bed bound with an IV pole for lengthy periods of time, Emily also developed extreme muscle weakness.
Her mum, Mel Cohen, was desperate to find a way to help her daughter regain both strength and joy. So she reached out her local gymnastics club.
“When I first approached Evolve Gymnastics, I would never have imagined where she would be today,” the Sydney mum said. “Now, I see the massive smile on her face each week as she participates in a modified program and my mum heart sings with joy.”
At first, Emily needed to be accompanied by both her dad and coach for every lesson. Within a few months, her dad took a step back and she could perform simple skills.
“Although it is still one-on-one with a coach, but I do more complex things, like doing a half jump off the high beam and working on handstands, backbends and more,” Emily said.
“It’s a fun and exciting way to increase my skill levels, core strength and muscle strength. Gymnastics has become more fun over the years because often the harder something is, the more fun my coach and I have. When I muck it up, we have a laugh.”
The social opportunities have also been a highlight, especially participating in holiday programs and events like the club disco. “This is what I had wanted earlier on in my life,” she said. “Some people find it very hard to believe I am the same girl – well, I am.”