Mckenzie Kerr-Bell (left) and Youth Stroke Survivors New
Zealand founder Maria Fredatovich celebrate after
Mckenzie's first ski lesson since her stroke last year.
Photo by Leith Huffadine.
Mckenzie Kerr-Bell in April last year had a severe stroke
which paralysed her right side, and she has been on the road to
recovery ever since.
She is one of the 5% of people affected by strokes who are
under the age of 45.
Mckenzie is 13, and on Saturday morning, she began ski
lessons at Cardrona Alpine Resort. She is on a skiing holiday
in Wanaka with her family, supported and funded by Young
Stroke Survivors New Zealand (YSSNZ) and its sponsors.
YSSNZ founder Maria Fredatovich, who also had a stroke at a
young age, said fundraising for the trip had begun about
November last year, and would not have been possible without
support from external groups and businesses.
Funds had been raised mostly through raffle tickets and
donations, including accommodation and ski passes, from
businesses and a ''wide range of sponsors'' in Wanaka and
Auckland, she said.
The idea behind the trip, and YSSNZ, was about the Kiwi ''can
do'' attitude and getting back to normal life after a stroke.
Mckenzie said her first lesson with the Cardrona Alpine
Resort adaptive snow sports programme on Saturday morning was
She had been skiing at Mt Ruapehu on school camps twice
before her stroke, but was having to relearn everything when
getting back on the slopes over the weekend.
Although her recovery was going well, physical exercise
during the lesson wore her out, and poor circulation due to
her stroke meant she got cold quickly, and had to be careful
about choosing warm clothing.
Mckenzie said the most frustrating thing about her recovery
was having people ask her if they could do things for her,
even though she understood they were being helpful.
''People always ask to help but I want to do things for
Ms Fredatovich said re-learning skills was challenging, as
stroke sufferers had to adapt to new circumstances such as
learning to use the non-dominant hand due to damage on the
dominant side of the body.
YSSNZ had planned to help only Mckenzie in her recovery, but
Ms Fredatovich said she had now decided to create a charity
and support more young people who had suffered from strokes.
Mckenzie has four ski lessons planned at Cardrona Alpine
Resort while she and her family stay and ski in the Wanaka
area, before flying back to Auckland on August 27.
By Leith Huffadine.