“Eva was treated the same way as every other child, and she thrived.”
Lisa lives near Sheffield with her family. She told us about her daughter Eva and some of her incredible achievements.
“We’re a family of three: myself, Lisa, and my two children Eva (13) and Maria (19). Eva has Down’s syndrome (Trisomy 21). She has mental impairment and currently is at a learning age of around five years old. Eva has difficulty with co-ordination and her speech is also impaired. As with lots of children who have Down’s syndrome, she is also hypermobile.
“Eva is very bubbly and always has a smile on her face. She is extremely helpful. It doesn’t matter where she is or what she is doing, she will always stop and try to help someone in need.”
“She can find it difficult making long-term friends. They all seem to grow up around her and then she is left on her own. It’s sad and very hard for a parent to see this. And it’s not just the other kids growing up that forces a separation, but sometimes the parents too, who seem unable to understand Eva’s disability. This can form barriers, as the kids only pick up what they are hearing and seeing from their own parents. However in general, Eva has made some lovey friends in and out of school.”
Training in martial arts
“Hard work and discipline are areas where Eva has already proven herself. Her phenomenal hard work training in martial arts, both physical and mental from the age of 3, has earned Eva her 1st and 2nd degree Black belts in mixed martial arts.
“For any adult to get a 1st degree in mixed martial arts is an achievement. But for a child to have achieved 1st & 2nd degree black belt by the age of 10, is incredible. She spent seven years training after school, at weekends and holidays, and doing boot camps where the fitness level has to be very high and the endurance is torturous.
“Eva overcame all her barriers and pushed through some extremely hard times. With the additional challenges that come with her disability, you can imagine how proud we all are of her.”
“The one plus side to Eva being hypermobile is that she was able to get her body into positions that would take years of training, almost straight away. This was highly amusing for Eva and everyone else when she would show off her perfect splits or double over backwards. She just shone through every lesson and grading that she went to. But she wasn’t given an easy ride. Castle Martial Arts, where we trained, were fantastic. They encouraged and embraced Eva every step of the way, but she still had to do just the same as everyone else in the class.
“She was treated in the same way as every other child, and she thrived.”
“Without mixed martial arts, I can honestly say that Eva would not be the person she is today. She is polite, caring, confident, outgoing… I could go on. But the martial arts lessons were also about living life from the heart. Showing small actions towards others that would have a positive impact on someone else’s’ life or day. Showing appreciation for others and ensuring that they know they are appreciated. Also, she had tasks to complete at home or out in the wider community. This gave Eva a valuable insight in how to work as a team and respect and appreciate each other’s abilities.”
Eva’s other hobbies
“Eva enjoys trampolining. Thanks to Family Fund, who contributed towards the cost of one, she has been lucky enough to have one in the garden. She spends hours bouncing or having nights out sleeping under the stars on the trampoline with her sister. As well as being a whole load of fun, this also played a crucial part in helping strengthen Eva’s low muscle tone.
“Eva also loves to swim. She currently has one lesson a week at school and a lesson after school at our local pool. Eva has said that she wants to do more swimming and she wants to swim racing others. So our next challenge is finding a club where Eva is accepted on her own merit and to work towards swimming with a club. Eva has said that she wants to swim in the Olympics… Well, I know that Olympics or not, Eva will always give it her all. The water is Eva’s favourite place. If she isn’t in a pool then she is most likely to be found in the hot tub (that Family Fund partially funded) or the bath/shower! She really is a little mermaid.
“Family Fund has played a massive part in Eva’s development and progress. It’s always been there, just to take off that load slightly and help us all enjoy Eva’s achievements.”