Los Angeles

13-Year-old Girl With Cerebral Palsy Finds Comfort and Future at Chatsworth Campus

Amelia was born with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that affects the body movement and muscle coordination in the human body.

It is a fear facing many special needs parents every day: Who will take care of your child when you are no longer able to care for them?

One family in Woodland Hills is no longer worried about their daughter's future. They've not only found a place to cater to all of her needs but also a place where she can thrive and connect with others.

As 13-year-old Amelia Serrano celebrates her bat mitzvah, there is no question that the young girl is growing up--a sight that brings great joy to her parents who often wondered what would be of her life.

"I would look at her and she would look at me and I would say, 'What are we going to do?'" said Nestor Serrano, Amelia's father.

There is nothing Serrano and his wife Debbie won't do for their eldest daughter, who is unfortunately unable to do much on her own.

"Five feet tall, 110 pounds. She can't walk. She can't talk," said Nestor Serrano.

Amelia was born with Cerebral Palsy, a condition that affects the body movement and muscle coordination in the human body. It's a hard pill to swallow for any parent.

"You kind of mourn what you thought things were going to be," said Debbie Serrano, Amelia's mother.

The actor and his wife learned quickly to provide around-the-clock care for their daughter in their home, as well as when she goes to school. The task requires a lot of hard work from her parents, but to them, every effort is worth it.

"When people say, 'Having a special needs child must be really hard on you,' it's not nearly as hard as it is on her," Nestor Serrano said. "She is intent on trying to get better even though her neurological condition pushes back."

The coming of age of their daughter pushed the Serranos to visit Chatsworth, where the United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles waits to one day welcome Amelia to her new home.

"UCPLA creates a connection point for people," said Kimberly Lee, UCPLA Chief Program Officer.

It provides a place for Amelia to connect with others just like her. Her mother has already witnessed a change after their first visit.

"She would reach out and grab their hands and hold them and that's not typical of somebody she just met. And I was like, 'She loves it here,'" said Debbie Serrano.

But the parents weren't the only ones feeling the connection.

"We all did feel that connection. They meet people of like-challenges which bonds them together in understanding," said UCPLA Chief Program Officer Kimberly Lee. "It's so special to watch them grow together."

As Amelia grows older and so do her parents, the future is no longer fuzzy.

"We're not worried when we can't take care of her anymore--she loves it here," said Debbie Serrano. "She doesn't belong in a nursing home. She's an active person. She belongs in a place where she could live her fullest life."

UCPLA seems to be able to provide that life for Amelia, but it also brings hope and peace of mind for her parents.

"For me, UCPLA is like a gift. There's nothing more comforting," said Nestor Serrano.

UCPLA has a 75-year legacy of providing support to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It has made such an impression on the Serranos that Amelia's father decided to join their board of directors.

To learn more about UCPLA and its variety of services, click here.

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