“It began with me just trying to spread awareness about cerebral palsy,” says Kiaira Fedorus. For the last six months, she’s been sharing short videos about her experience with cerebral palsy (CP) on TikTok. Recently, she added Facebook and Instagram.
Fedorus says TikTok is like Facebook, but you can only post 15 to 60 second videos, nothing else.
As Fedorus spoke with her followers, she decided to support “every type of disability.”
“I’m learning about accessibility at every level,” she says. Both physical and mental accessibility.
Fedorus is 19. She grew up and still lives in Slave Lake, but hopes to move to Edmonton.
“I don’t have the support that I need,” says Fedorus. In Edmonton, there’s more support programs to help people with disabilities to learn to drive, get a job, etc.
“My experience hasn’t been that great,” she says. She’s “not really proud of being a Slave Laker,” she adds.
Because of her CP, Fedorus has been harassed at work and school and even received death threats, she says. For example, when Fedorus was 16 she had to block her phone number from everyone in her grade because five boys kept calling her to call her “‘T-Rex of Slave Lake’ because of how my arm looks,” she says.
That year, she transferred from Roland Michener to Lakeside Outreach School.
Fedorus hopes to meet with local school boards about improving education about disabilities, so kids can accept the differences and not be afraid.
In the past, Fedorus tried to hide her CP. She always wore long sleeves, and didn’t talk about having CP much. However, through following other CP advocates on TikTok and becoming one herself, she’s become able to talk about it.
“It’s okay to show your disability,” Fedorus says. “It is okay to need those modifications.”
Fedorus’ CP isn’t extreme, but it does impact her ability to drive and live independently. Before she was born, she had a stroke which damaged one arm and leg. Since she was six months old, she’s had the same team at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. In order to get the modifications to learn how to drive, she has applied for a driver training course through Glenrose which may take up to two years to get into.
“I think it is ridiculous that I have to travel two hours” to learn to drive, says Fedorus. When she got her learners at 14, no one mentioned that she would need modifications to drive.
“There’s no information for us,” she says. “I’m in limbo constantly.”
While driving is not an option at the moment, the advocacy is going well.
“The response is overwhelming,” says Fedorus. She was at 8,000 followers for a long time. On April 9, she had 10,000 followers. Two days later, it was 14,000.