Age | 13
Photographer| Lisa Uesugi
I photographed my older sister Alissa who is 17 and has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. She has the biggest and most infectious smile and when she laughs, her whole face lights up. Sometimes it’s hard for me when we are in public places because everyone stares. It’s very annoying and makes me feel very protective of her. Because my sister’s condition is severe, she can’t communicate with others or do any physical activities. But she can project her emotions and sing. So we like to sing and read together. She always comes to my basketball and soccer games to support me with her loud cheering. Taking care of my sister fills up much of my chores. I have to feed her and give her her meds through a gastrostomy tube. I’m proud of my sister because she had a back surgery a few months ago and she stayed strong throughout the whole experience, even when she got pneumonia. Since she has gone through multiple surgeries and some hard times, she has inspired me to not complain about unimportant issues and to be thankful. She makes me appreciate the small things in life and never fails to make me smile when I’m sad. “Alissa, you have always brought joyfulness into our family and have brought us together. It has given us more reasons to spend time together and as I’ve always told you, I love you.”
I am a caring person and a diligent worker.
I can play basketball aggressively.
I will spread happiness and make people smile.
Lindsey is a very positive, mature, and considerate teen whose active lifestyle keeps our family very busy. She is sensitive and thinks of how others feel, making her a thoughtful and kind individual who looks for the best in people. In addition to playing basketball and dancing, Lindsey will be the President of her 8th grade this year. Lindsey and Alissa have a very special relationship; they never fight and there is a mutual love and kindness between them. Though Alissa doesn’t talk, she does communicate through her visual and vocal expressions. Lindsey is Alissa’s advocate and often lets us know Alissa’s preferences. She “speaks” on her behalf, sensing what Alissa might be thinking or wanting to say. Lindsey also helps with her sister’s daily care including such things as tube feeding, giving her medication and helping her shop and selecting the clothing Alissa would like to wear. Lindsey is just beginning to explore the opportunities and possibilities in her life and it is our hope, along with Alissa, that she reaches her potential and is able to make a difference in the lives of others. “Lindsey, we hope you will continue to bring joy to those around you as you do to our family.”
Catha | Mother