Julia's Story: Overcoming CP and Competing for Miss Teen

3 min read

Image of Julia in pageant dress

Cerebral Palsy Is Not an Obstacle for Teen

People with CP face physical challenges every day. Some overcome them and become an inspiration to the community.

Cerebral Palsy Guide received an email from Julia Ismael earlier this year. Julia is an 18-year-old with mild cerebral palsy.

In her email, she asked for a sponsor to help her with the cost of attending the Miss Teen National Competition. Intrigued by her email, we called her to find out more.

Julia has inspired us, and now we want to share her story with you.

Image of photo collage of Julia. Reads: I never allowed my challenges to define me

Julia’s Story  

The moment of my birth, I was not breathing and the doctor told my parents I might die. I stayed in the hospital for eleven days struggling to live. After a few months, my parents received a diagnosis: cerebral palsy.

Though cerebral palsy is considered a disability, I made sure to push myself to overcome the challenges. One of the aspects of having cerebral palsy is my physical challenges.

Fine motor skills such as buttoning, holding a cup, and using a pencil had to be taught to me.  Fortunately, there were instrumental people in my life who supported me throughout my journey and development.

My dad made sacrifices to ensure I would be able to have a better life and be able to walk and talk. Every single day after his work, he would take me to my medical appointments and therapy sessions. My dad’s sacrifices helped me develop the fine/gross motor skills necessary for my growing independence. Now I have accomplished all the motor skills of any typical 18-year-old young lady.

In addition to my physical challenges, I also faced academic challenges. My elementary school memories consisted of being pulled out for adaptive physical education, occupational therapy, and various other types of support.

I missed many class lectures and had to stay up late to catch up. The struggle became unbearable until sixth grade when my mom realized I needed to transition to Special Education. Moving into Special Education gave me the support to become successful and influenced me to learn study skills such as breaking down my homework and actively engaging with the subjects. These study skills helped me academically, and I excelled in regular academic classes throughout high school.

I graduated from Ruben S. Ayala High School. Now I am currently enrolled at Cal Poly Pomona majoring in Liberal Arts, pursuing to become an occupational therapist.  

I am a person who enjoys helping others out and volunteering. I’m involved with my church at St. Paul, part of the youth ministry. When I was in high school, I was in the Renaissance Leadership class my junior and senior year. My senior year I had the privilege to become the leader for the Impact Committee in my Renaissance class. Impact is where the whole class goes to the special educational students and does activities with them. Being in that committee I saw how blessed I am that I am capable of doing so much even though I may have some limitations.

I never allowed my challenges to define me. Challenges will always come my way, but no matter the obstacle I am determined to overcome them. Hard work and resilience got me to where I am today.  My life’s aspiration is not to be defined by my disability, but rather to be seen as Julia the person.

Julia Competes for Miss Teen Title

Image of Julie in pageant dress

Julia will be competing at the Miss Teen National Competition on December 17th. Make sure that you check our blog after the pageant to read about her experience.

The whole CP community is excited about this opportunity for her. Here at Cerebral Palsy Guide, we are rooting for you, Julia!


Cerebral Palsy Guide was founded upon the goal of educating families about cerebral palsy, raising awareness, and providing support for children, parents, and caregivers affected by the condition. Our easy-to-use website offers simple, straightforward information that provides families with medical and legal solutions. We are devoted to helping parents and children access the tools they need to live a life full of happiness