Sofia, a spunky ten-year-old, has received services through Boone County Family Resources since she was three months old. She experienced a stroke in utero and was born with paraplegia, but she’s never let any physical limitations slow her down. She focuses on what she can do.
Like many other girls her age, Sofia is obsessed with making slime, has her own arts and crafts YouTube channel, dominates the screen in video games, and enjoys hanging out with her friends. She also loves to swim. She joined the Disabled Athlete Sports Association (DASA) swim team and never looked back. “I swim the freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke,” says Sofia. “But backstroke is probably my favorite.”
Tracey, Sofia’s mom, was a swimmer for 18 years and says she hoped that one of her kids would be as interested in it as she was. “Sofia is fearless!” exclaims Tracey. “She just got right in and got started. She is a natural in the water.” The philosophy of the DASA program was what impressed Tracey—the program is centered around functional fitness—creating fun programs for people with physical disabilities to stay in shape and stay healthy.
“DASA encourages athletes to focus on their abilities, not their disabilities,” says Tracey, “Swimming is something that Sofia can do without any adaptations. And it is such good exercise!” Tracey says participating on the swim team has motivated Sofia to stay active. With practices once a week in the St. Louis area, Sofia keeps her body competition-ready by lifting weights. “It helps me get stronger so I can swim better,” says Sofia.
Tracey credits the DASA swim team with boosting Sofia’s confidence and enabling her to push herself to try new things. Sofia is now also interested in participating in additional sports programs such as track & field and basketball. “I got to try out one of the special basketball wheelchairs and it was awesome,” says Sofia. “I think basketball will be a lot of fun.”
Another new thing Sofia will be embarking on this summer is vlogging (video-blogging) her experiences as she and her family travel through Europe. She got a new video camera for Christmas and is hoping to document what traveling is like with a physical disability in foreign countries. “This is an ambitious trip,” says Tracey. “I don’t know how accessible everything will be, but I hope with Sofia giving her perspective on traveling she can share her experiences for others who may have been hesitant about travel using a wheelchair.”
Sofia is excited about the international vacation, but says she is very much looking forward to this summer and spending time hanging out with her friends at the pool here in Columbia.