A Rodeo Queen Whose Cerebral Palsy Doesn’t Matter

The bio for 2014 Eastern Colorado Roundup Queen Skyler Baker reads like one for any teen who’s a ring master: Skyler Baker has been rodeo-ing since age three. The 16-year-old enjoys traveling to shows and meeting new people. She’s learning how to rope. She has a 3.6 GPA. She’s enjoyed representing Colorado as Queen; she’s learned that children look up to her, and that it’s important to be the best she can be to set a positive example.

What her bio doesn’t mention: that she has cerebral palsy. And I loved that, more so than reading about how her town says there’s no one better to represent their “grit.”

Too often, the press plays up the accomplishments of people with disability as inspirational or who, as the caption on a video about Skyler notes, “show what tough really is.” To be sure, parents like me who have children with cerebral palsy admire the accomplishments of adults with CP because we hope our children grow up to achieve their own maximum potential. To be sure, kids like Max have to work harder at doing stuff. Yet in general, the portrayal of people with disabilities as being exceptional because of their abilities does them an injustice. They may have challenges to overcome, but like anyone they have their own special talents and, as in Skyler’s case, athletic abilities. Skyler is an amazing equestrian, period, cerebral palsy or not.

As Skyler says, “I don’t feel different. I’m unique, just like everyone else.”

This cowgirl’s cerebral palsy does not define her. If only more people thought of kids and adults with disabilities that way.

Cerebral Palsy: Challenges and Triumphs
Cerebral Palsy: Challenges and Triumphs
Cerebral Palsy: Challenges and Triumphs

From my other blog:

The paradox of disability inspiration and may I admire you, please?

On letting kids with special needs learn how to do things their own way

That sad you feel when you think about your pregnancy

Image: Screen grab, KMGH video

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