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Kerry Walsh,
South Africa

Kerry Walsh was born in a set of fraternal twins. Around the age of one her parents had realized that she wasn’t developing like her sister was. Shortly after Kerry received a Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) diagnosis and given five year life expectancy. Giving up was never an option. Now Kerry has a motivational speaking campaign called KmotivationSA and shares a message that life is a beautiful gift and that it's our responsibility to live it to the fullest.

"As a child I coped quite well. My parents sent me to a mainstream public school. I have a very low immune system therefore I was often ill with pneumonia. This led to me missing a lot of school, but I always managed to catch up. At the end of matric I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, I decided to take a gap year and figure out my place in this world. In my gap year I had a never say no attitude. I was going to try everything that I could."

Kerry says that she started giving motivational speeches because she wanted to create awareness about SMA and living with this disability. She says "It was at that time that I started my motivational speaking campaign called KmotivationSA. I started with motivational speaking in high schools to encourage students to live life to the fullest, take advantage of their opportunities and to love all kinds of people because everyone has a story some are just a little more noticeable.

I grew so much while doing speaking engagements and I gained a lot of exciting opportunities from getting my name and story out there. I started a Twitter rating system so that people with disabilities knew the places to go that were the most accessible. I am extremely passionate about changing the level of accessibility in South Africa because everyone deserves to go out without the fear of the premises not being accessible."

Kerry needed to go to school out of her and budget which resulted in creation of The Kerry Walsh Trust which was used to host fundraisers to raise money needed for medical and educational requirements. Kerry says that "Over the years we have had many successful fundraisers. We have done Barnyard fundraisers, the 94.7 ride for a purpose and charity golf days. The fundraisers now are aimed at also being able to give back as we have received so much. " When it comes to fundraising Kerry recommends starting planning early and using contacts and connections to success.

Don’t worry about what other people think. Do your best and live your life to the fullest.

Please take a look at Kerry's blog where she talks about her experience, SMA and inclusion. It's the place in the internet where everyone can feel welcomed.

When it comes to South Africa Kerry says that people in this country are not extremely knowledgeable about Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) as a whole. Kerry says that "Healthcare and assistance Is extremely expensive and difficult to get. South Africa has the occasional accessible venue however it is not enforced therefore rare. It’s extremely frustrating"