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“I like showing people what I’m able to do. I play because I’m able to play.”

Name: Henry
Condition: Achondroplasia
Location: Shriners Children’s Erie

Henry, an active 15-year-old from Union City, Pennsylvania, was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and had a stroke in utero. He has been receiving care at Shriners Children’s Erie since he was 4. “There is nobody else who could treat his condition and help us understand how to help Henry meet his best potential,” said Henry’s mom, Natalie. “The whole staff has been so caring, welcoming and determined to help us succeed and become the very best at everything that has come our way, since the very beginning.”

In addition to providing medical care, Shriners Children’s Erie has helped fulfill Henry’s emotional and social needs through adaptive sports programming. Henry is a well-rounded athlete and participates in wheelchair basketball, sledge hockey and adaptive sailing. The health and safety of patients is always top priority, and an adaptive approach is used so that each child can safely make sports a part of their life.

“He always brings a friendly, positive attitude and readiness to improve his skills,” said child life specialist Kristin Maguire.

Henry has been playing wheelchair basketball for four seasons and sledge hockey, also called sled hockey, for three. “My favorite thing about it is that it is not scary,” he said. “I am not afraid of hurting myself.”

Henry has made many new friends through the sports programs and, although their disabilities are different, found
commonality through their shared love of the game. Not only have these programs helped form friendships on the court, but they help make connections in the classroom.

“I like teaching my classmates about adaptive sports,” said Henry. “They are surprised to hear that I play, and it gives us something to talk about.”