Eight-year old Mikayla Edmunds is more than just a participant in PISE’s Kids Programs. She is a bona fide superhero. Mikayla’s alter-ego, Spiderman (photo below), made her debut in the 2018 Junior Superheroes Calendar, an initiative to raise funds for the Help Fill a Dream Foundation. Though she may not exactly be swinging from building to building in her spare time, since her time with PISE, Mikayla has harnessed some incredible superpowers of her own.

PISE first shared Mikayla’s Story in August 2016. Since then, Mikayla has been officially diagnosed with Idiopathic Short Stature Syndrome. Her parents Jocelyn and Mitch urge her to celebrate what makes her different from her peers. She sees herself as unique. And though she may be little, she is certainly mighty and memorable.

From PISE’s Kids Programs, which she first joined when she was three and a half, Mikayla learned how to adapt and modify activities for her own unique body. Her short stature made her “top-heavy”; along with her club feet, she found it challenging to find her balance, requiring her to develop her muscular strength, especially in her core. The PISE instructors – her two favourites were both named Sarah – helped her to build awareness of her own capabilities, and to adapt exercises so that she could participate in her own way. For example, Mikayla found the obstacle course fun but challenging in bare feet, so her instructors suggested she put on her shoes, which made all the difference in the world. What does Mikayla miss most about PISE though? She misses spending time with the special friends she made.

These days, Mikayla is a spunky, determined eight-year old. Though she misses coming to PISE regularly, the fundamental skills she developed she now puts to good use in her weekly karate and dance classes. In her karate dojo, she was originally placed in a class with kids 2 years younger. She has continued to develop her core stability, and now that one of her best friends has joined the class in the next age group, Mikayla is eager to advance a level. Sensei Rob, who has been immensely supportive of Mikayla’s journey, has agreed.

At Leap Forward Dance Studio, where Mikayla studies ballet and hip hop, her teacher is delighted with her progress and commitment. “Mikayla has a ‘look on the bright side’ approach to life, even when it is difficult. Mikayla focuses on all the things she is able to do well rather than what she finds challenging,” says Miss Amber. In a recent ballet production, Mikayla played the role of Minitina, one of the Little Mermaid’s mer-sisters.

At home, Mikayla and her mom Jocelyn are dedicated to tending to their garden all year round. They grow tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and gerberas. On Sundays, their official family day, Mikayla loves to help her dad Mitch to make a big breakfast, and they often walk their dog through the woods. Like all busy families, finding balance between all their activities, commitments, and making time to relax is a practice in mindfulness.

Can’t” just means “find another way.” For Mikayla and her family, this is their motto. In fact, this might be her most potent superpower.

~submitted by Andrea Ting-Letts | SCRIBE Professional Writing