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  • All for One: Zachary Kiernan

  • When Zachary Kiernan was an infant, his mother was told that she should not expect much from her child. He would not reach the milestones of other children. He wouldn't walk or talk until the age of four or older. It would be a long, hard road.

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    Zachary was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Growing up, he had difficulty with motion on the left side of his body, as well as manipulating objects. However, early on, he began defying the words of those who doubted him. He started speaking at eight months and he took his first step at twelve. His mother attributes this progress to the Children's Rehabilitation Center at Hasbro Children's Hospital, where Zachary has been a patient since he was six months old.

    Zachary's mother says, "When everyone was telling Zachary what he couldn't do, Hasbro Children's and the rehabilitation center staff members were telling him everything he could. When you tell a child he can't do something, he feels defeated. Then he will ask himself, 'Why should I even try?' At Hasbro Children's, Zachary was taught to believe in himself and his capabilities and he never looked back."

    When Zachary's mom speaks about the rehabilitation center and its staff, she overflows with praise and gratitude. She says, "The only word I can use is 'fabulous!' They don't just treat physical disabilities there, they treat the whole person and they care about the individual. The staff knows my son's birthday and other special dates. They know when to ask him about school events. They have a close personal relationship with him and with me. Not only does this relationship make children feel more comfortable, it takes their minds off of the pain of rehab. This helps them to push harder and further. I never thought my son could come this far. He is doing fantastic and I am so proud of him!"

    Zachary spent his entire high school career as a member of the Cranston West football team and has been involved in the hands-on electronics program at school. He plans to go to college to become a physical therapy assistant and will minor in electronics. He wants to learn all he can about adaptive equipment for children with special needs, so that he can spend his life helping others like himself.

    Kiernan says, "Isn't it incredible that a child who had so many physical challenges is now literally working with his hands and running down the football field with his teammates? This is because of the rehab center and now it is better than ever."

    Children's Rehabilitation Center at Hasbro Children's Hospital relocated to a 12,000 square foot space on Allens Avenue and Zachary's mom says that the new facility is "phenomenal. Hasbro Children's Hospital was always the best place to bring kids for rehabilitation, no one could beat it, but now it is even better. The children and the therapists have so much room and privacy and because of this, the kids don't get easily distracted. The new technology is top-notch and the SwimEx pool is fabulous. I will be so sad when Zachary turns eighteen and has to be treated elsewhere because there is just no better place for children and teenagers with special needs."

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