26 June 2009

Talkative teen finds her voice - and there’s no stopping her!

A TEENAGE disabled girl has finally been able to tell her mum she loves her after being given a voice.

It’s changed her life massively, people won’t realise how much - mum Joanne, above with Jodie, 16, on the machine enabling her daughter to speak for the first time

Jodie Griffiths, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy and has always struggled to express herself.

But now, thanks to a £10,000 communications aid, she can finally tell the world how she feels - and release her wicked sense of humour.

Jodie, who lives in Grasmere Road, Redcar, with her mum, has wasted no time in making the most of the machine. Mum Joanne, 42, said: “One of the first things she said was ‘Mum, I love you.’ It was wonderful. I knew every part of her, just by the way she looked, I’d know how she was feeling. But now she can really communicate. It’s emotional because I didn’t think she would ever be able to say anything like that.”

The communications console, which mum Joanne boasts is better than the one theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking uses, has opened up the world to Jodie.

“It’s changed her life massively, people won’t realise how much,” she said. Simply by using her head to press a switch, she can select a word or phrase, play music or games, watch video, access the internet, and even operate the TV.

Joanne said: “She’s very outgoing, very sociable and has a wicked sense of humour.”
And it’s this cheeky sense of humour that has not only enamoured people to her but on the odd occasion landed her in trouble.

Jodie, who attends Kirkleatham Hall School, said: “I have already been in trouble at school because I kept putting my music on. My friends thought it was funny but my teachers did not.”

Prompted by mum, Jodie also admits that she told a man working at B&Q: “You’re looking very sexy today.”

The money to buy the console came via two different sources.

A panel of young people from the borough awarded Jodie with £7,000 from Redcar and Cleveland Council’s Youth Opportunity Fund.

Joanne said: “They usually don’t give out personalised grants of that amount of money but when the children on the panel heard about Jodie their reaction was, well, if we’ve got a voice then Jodie should have a voice too.”

A fundraising night at Redcar's West Two raised £2,600. Joanne said: “At the beginning, we knew we’d have to raise the money ourselves, then when we got the grant, I just couldn’t believe it.”

Jodie, a Middlesbrough FC season ticket holder, said: “Thanks to the kids on the panel my life has changed so much in such a short time. I can now tell people how I feel and what I want. In fact it’s hard to shut me up.”

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