…a second chance at childhood
The Stories

Step By Step

My name is Chen JianYing, 7 years old and I grow up in Chenzhou Welfare Institution.

When I was very little, I suffered from a disease which made my legs so weak that I was not able to walk even when I was 2 years old. I had to move slowly while sitting on the floor. I remember during those days, what I could do was only staring at the ceiling and walls, the busy figures of Ayi and the merry children running here and there…

My life changed when Teacher Chen came. She took me in her arms to the classroom everyday, read me stories, sang songs to me and played games with me. I made friends with new teachers and friends. Sometimes I could go outdoors in an armchair, to look at the sky, the flowers and the trees. But I wanted to walk on my own. Teacher Chen had begun to give me feet massage and leg massage too. She often told me how beautiful and amazing the outside world was to me. She said, “JianYing, you need to make more efforts. Try to feel your legs and feet and believe that they have power. You will walk one day. You will walk out the institution and see the world. It is much greater than I had described.” At that time I did not get much of the meaning of these words. I only knew that Teacher Chen had been giving me massage everyday, without stop.

One day when I was sitting in the roller cart as usual, Teacher Chen suddenly held me in her arms and said to me excitedly, “JianYing, look, your right leg is moving!”I did not realize until she told me so. I used to sit in it with Teacher Chen pushing me forward, but this time I moved it on my own with my right leg. Teacher Chen was very happy that day. She told the good news to every one. I was happy too. I tried to move around on my own in the cart within the classroom, but due to the condition of my muscle strength at that time, I moved very slowly. However, the ecstasy that I was finally able to move on my own would never be forgot. From that day on, the cart had become my “vehicle”. Teacher Chen, except giving me massage as usual, also helped me practice kicking ball and other exercise my muscles.

One day, Teacher Chen signed and asked to get out of the cart. I did not understand. What was wrong with sitting in it? What was she worrying about? Teacher Chen told me her concerns, ” JianYing, I know you can move around in the cart and it is a lot of fun to you. But you know this is not our goal. What if you don’t have a cart? JianYing, you need to move on your own legs. You need to walk.” I still could not fully understand but I had faith in Teacher Chen. I believed that what she said and did was for my own good. I listened to her and got out of the cart. Because of the practices in the previous days, my legs were much stronger, especially the right one. I could stand and even walk for a few steps leaning against Teacher Chen , crippling. Teacher Chen taught me how to crawl. She often encouraged me and I made progress day by day. I could also feel that I was getting stronger and stronger. I could stand longer, rely less on Teacher Chen, spent less time in the cart. Teacher Chen was very proud and happy for me.

And later on, Teacher Chen borrowed a walking aid for me. Now I can walk about with the aid and even kick balls outside with other children. Finally I understood how is feels like to walk with my feet on the floor. I began to understand Teacher Chen’s words, her care and love as well. I walked on my own all the way up till now and I will also walk my future out step by step.

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