They said I wouldn’t come this far. I don’t plan on slowing down
It wasn’t long before Kerry Walsh’s parents realised she wasn’t like her twin sister. When her sibling started crawling, Walsh would only sit. Soon after, the toddler could barely move at all. Doctors diagnosed Walsh with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that causes a person’s muscles to degenerate over time. They said she would only live until the age of five. Today, Walsh is 21. “I don’t plan on slowing down,” she says.
Walsh spent her childhood in and out of hospital while powering through her schooling. Her parents raised her to take life head on. “My mind was shaped to think that there was nothing different about me,” she says. “I just have to do it in a slightly different way.” Walsh has never been able to walk and relies on a wheelchair. To pay medical bills and afford specialised wheelchairs as she grew, her family began the Kerry Walsh Trust Fund. In her matric year, she was invited to share her story at a high school. That’s when she discovered a new path. “Seeing people really appreciate what I had to say got my mind thinking,” Walsh says.
In addition to using social media to rate spaces on their accessibility, Walsh now gives motivational talks at schools across the country. Her focus is on disability awareness, but her message is relatable in her approach to making each moment meaningful. “If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s difficult to believe in anything else,” she says. With her positive frame of mind, Walsh epitomises what it means to overcome. “We all have our own challenges,” she says. “I want people to live their lives to the fullest.”