#SCIAD2020: Naomi’s Story


This Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day we’re working on building a collection of stories to show not only that spinal cord injury can happen at any age, but that resilience can too.

We spoke to Naomi. Naomi is your typical 10 year old. She loves spending time with her sister and friends, reading the latest books, writing, and playing with Lego. She is part of Guides, does wheelchair tennis, ballet, tap and goes swimming. She’s energetic, inquisitive and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to Harry Potter. We wouldn’t want to be up against her in a quiz, as you can ask her almost anything and we’re sure she’ll know the answer.

Back Up first met Naomi and her mum at Stoke Mandeville where Naomi was undergoing rehabilitation following her injury. Both have benefited from of our services. Naomi’s confidence grew after she attended our Back Up Festival in 2017 and she’s excited about attending our upcoming multi-activity course. Her mum also found a support network for herself when she used our family mentoring service. This helped her to better adjust to Naomi’s injury.

We now see them both when Naomi goes for her check-ups at Stoke Mandeville. Naomi will generally join us for Wacky Wednesday too, if dates allow. Wacky Wednesday is an evening event we run for all the kids on the ward on the last Wednesday of every month. The activity is chosen by them and it often involves cooking and a trip to the local supermarket for ingredients. They’ll cook for each other, themselves and their parents.
So, let’s meet Naomi…

Tell us a bit about yourself – who you are, what you do?

I’m Naomi and I’m 10 years old. I usually go to school, but with everything going on at the moment I can’t go. I never thought I’d say I miss school, but it can be boring at home sometimes, especially when I am here the whole day. I miss the structure of school with its schedule and especially seeing my friends – I hope I get to see them soon.

How did you sustain your spinal cord injury? What level is your injury?

I was in a car crash in July 2015. I was five and a half years old. The impact of the crash led to my spinal cord injury being damaged. I have a T10 complete spinal cord injury.

How does your injury affect your day-to-day life? Do you ever have any pain or fatigue?

I’m lucky because my injury doesn’t leave me too tired each day and I don’t usually have any pain. I know that other people do. I do suffer from spasms in my legs, and sometimes this can be up to five times a day. It can be really annoying.

I never found I had to adjust to the injury, but I do get frustrated sometimes when there is something I can’t do or have to do differently. The worst part is meeting lots of new people at once as they will often stare at my wheelchair. Once they get to know me it’s fine, but I wish they could think straight away “she’s just sitting down, no big deal, no big difference”.

I’m also lucky because my school has been great with my injury. Early on they had someone from Back Up called Sophie visit and explain to everyone in my year group what a spinal cord injury is. General curiosity questions were answered, and I think this really helped my teachers and other students understand and be more supportive about my needs. They now know I will ask for help when I need it, and they don’t push me without me asking first!

I also liked that Sophie’s talk mentioned there were other people who had injuries just like me and it really helped boost my confidence. I don’t feel alone when I hear about others through Back Up.

What are your hopes/ambitions for the future?

I love writing, so I want to be a writer when I grow up! My favourite author is J.K.Rowling and my favourite book of the Harry Potter series is the Order of the Phoenix. I think it has the best action scenes. I would love to be able to write as successful a series as her in the future.

I’ve seen all the films too, but I would really like to see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child soon with my grandfather, three of my aunts and two of my cousins – we are all big fans!
What advice would you give to someone else in a similar situation?

Don’t think that your injury shapes your life completely – it affects you physically, but it doesn’t have to affect you mentally! You are still the same person. Make sure that you discover lots of things that you enjoy doing, as that exhilaration and contentment will most make you feel like you.

Need to talk? Don’t hesitate to get in touch, we offer dedicated services for children and young people affected by spinal cord injury.