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Carla has been with Xplornet since the days of dialup.

She lives in a little farming hamlet outside Stanley, New Brunswick and loves the peace and quiet.

“My personality is such that I enjoy solitude, being by myself. I was perfectly fine entertaining myself and I think that would be the case whether I was disabled or not,” she said.

Carla lives with Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy.

“I was officially diagnosed before my 1st birthday by a pediatrician in Fredericton. The early years were spent with my mother doing exercises until I was 12; I had a procedure on my knees when I was 8; I wore waist-high braces from ages 1 to 9, and from age 9-12 I wore below-the-knee orthotics. From there, I wore shoes with corrective inserts, and I always walked with crutches,” she explained.

Carla grew up in the village of Bath, number 7 of 8 children. Her father was a doctor, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom and intermittent supply teacher.

“I come from a family of creative people. My father was a good writer, and my uncle Frank, also a doctor and his brother, had a newspaper column called Senior Clinic in papers across Canada and the US which were eventually compiled into a self-published book called The Aging Game,” she said.

The apple doesn’t fall far.

Carla has been a professional writer for almost 40 years.

“I’ve been writing essentially since university, published since the early 80s,” she said.

As a freelance writer and disability rights advocate, she regularly contributes to The Daily Gleaner, with her column Walk, Don’t Run with Carla.

“I’m their first journalist with a since-birth disability,” she said.

Carla is also one of Ability New Brunswick’s Media Commitment to Community Award recipients.

Right now, she is working on her upcoming column detailing a recent experience with insensitivity.

“I was looking for an exterminator. I had to disclose my disability and he said, “You don’t sound disabled”. The last time I heard that was almost 40 years ago when I applied for a job in a building without an elevator,” she said.

Those are the barriers that she continues to face 40 years on.

“What seems to be lost on everybody is that we all - each and every one of us - are disabled in some way and as we go through life, we become more disabled,” she said.

Carla’s husband passed away in 2007 and since then she’s been completely independent.

“A nurse with Extra-Mural visited to do a blood draw and was surprised I was able to live on my own without help. I’m choosing to do that because doing my own housework keeps me healthy,” she explained.

Having an Internet connection has been an important part of keeping healthy as well.

“In the medical community, I’m considered an anomaly, as most my age with spastic CP no longer walk. I credit my connection to the Internet with contributing to not only my mental and emotional health, but also my physical health... In short, Internet connection has allowed me to stay in my home and keeps me out of the hospital... My life would be considerably diminished without it,” she said.

Carla goes online to stream her favourite British dramas, stay connected to friends online and stay informed.

“It’s a nice diversion to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and watch a movie. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the Internet. The daily engagement with writers, with Scrabble players, with folks who like to bake, and cook has been a true lifeline for me. I can thank Xplornet for that,” she said.

She has also used her connection for her advocacy work.

“I used to participate in email groups where I and some others acted as mentors and gave parents of children with disabilities advice on facing negative attitudes toward disability. Be bold, be brave, and don’t be afraid when someone says no to prove to them that you deserve a yes,” she said.

Carla’s advocacy and writing work has genuinely helped people. She encourages people to not take things for granted and get out there and do things.

“I get emails from people who say what I have said has inspired them to improve their own situation,” she said. “Where would I be without Xplornet? I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without you. So, you are contributing to the health and wellness of the disabled population through me.”

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