• Julia Sidwell

Our little mermaid

Michelle's daughter Evie is simply amazing. Due to a rare brain disorder, the two-year-old can't walk or sit up, but incredibly, she can swim. We helped Michelle share her story in the biggest UK newspaper, the Daily Mail, to help raise awareness of the condition.

sell my story to the daily mail

A two-year-old girl can't sit up, crawl or walk due to cerebral palsy and brain damage, but amazingly she can swim.

When Michelle, 33, and her husband Jonathan, 44, were told their five-month-old daughter Evie had the serious neurological condition, they were devastated.

‘I was told it had been caused by a virus I’d caught during pregnancy and that it was unlikely she would ever be able to walk independently,’ Michelle said.

They were told there was no cure but recommended to start Evie on physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, to help strengthen her weak muscles and to relieve her spasms.

‘Unfortunately we discovered hydrotherapy wasn’t available on the NHS,’ Michelle said. ‘So when Evie was six months old we started looking for a swimming pool that could cater for her needs. That’s when we came across Water Babies.’

A few weeks later Evie had her first lesson.

‘We were so excited to see how Evie would take to the water but also really nervous,’ Michelle said. ‘We got her dressed into her little pink happy nappy swimming costume and as we got in the pool, I felt her little body relax in my arms. For the first time, her muscles were no longer stiff and she could move her arms and legs purposefully and freely. It was magical.’

As the weeks and lessons went on, Evie’s confidence in the water grew as well as her strength.

‘She started making new sounds - the exercise in the water strengthened her lungs - and she started to prop herself up on her arms whilst laying on her tummy, which was a direct link the swimming board work we did in the pool.’

Evie became a true water baby and when she was 18 months old she had her first solo swim.

‘My heart was pounding as she paddled her little arms and legs as fast as she could and swam towards me beaming,’ Michelle said. ‘I couldn’t believe it - our little girl who could not sit up, crawl or walk, could swim. Everyone cheered, it was such an emotional moment. She’s our little mermaid.’

Evie is now two and though she still can’t sit up, crawl or walk like other children her age, she continues to swim every week.

The family are raising money to buy a hydrotherapy pool for their home, which they want to allow other less able children who can’t afford swimming lessons to use too.

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