ORLA Hamilton was told she would never walk or talk – but the ten-year-old has defied people’s expectations from day one.
With cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, which is a build-up of fluid on the brain, and autism, her mother Amber was told that Orla would have no quality of life.
But by three and half, after extensive physio and a lot of hard work, Orla was walking and talking and smashing all her milestones.
Amber said: “Orla has just proved everyone wrong – when she’s told no, she hears maybe.”
But Orla has not stopped there. Already an elected member of the student council at her school, Undershaw in Hindhead, the youngster is now campaigning to become an elected member of youth parliament for Hampshire. Candidates must be aged 11 to 18 and with Orla’s 11th birthday in a week, she will be one of the youngest candidates this year.
Orla’s campaign is ‘Swinging Sensory Support Into Schools’. She believes that young people should be able to access sensory support in all schools, regardless of it being mainstream or specialist.
Orla uses a sensory swing at school to help her self-regulate, but she can only use it if an adult with training is there. Unable to use the swing at school, Orla was going to the park to use the swing there before and after school.
After speaking with her aunt, who is involved in youth parliament in Plymouth, Orla was inspired to start her own campaign.
She said: “I’m lucky because my school does have sensory access.”
“But some schools don’t have any access at all. Hopefully if I get elected I can change that.
“I want to make a difference so everyone gets the help and support they need.”
“If I got elected I would have sensory in all schools and make school and learning a better environment for people with additional learning difficulties.
“Occupational Therapy has really helped me in the past, and that’s why it’s so important that every child has the right to an education that meets their own abilities and needs.”
James Lindsay, who is responsible for the school council at Undershaw says Orla is force to be reckoned with.
He said: “I am extremely proud of Orla.
“She is an incredible young lady who really advocates for others in the school. Orla has the school’s full support and we are all 100 per cent behind her.”
Hampshire Youth Parliament run elections every two years.
Schools can sign up for tutor group voting and receive the candidate manifestos and then run a class election, or young people can register for a voting code to submit their own vote by emailing [email protected]