Ava Champe walks side-by-side with her classmate, Maddy. School’s out for the day and they’re headed to their weekly Girl Scout troop meeting together, excited to kick off annual cookie sales.   

These childhood moments are what Ava's mom, Sarah Champe, hoped for since her daughter's birth. They embody her philosophy—and favorite social media hashtag—#kidsbeingkids. Champe uses the hashtag with pride. For her, #kidsbeingkids signifies everything that children like Ava can achieve. It means possibilities.

Born a micro preemie weighing less than one pound, Ava came to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare when she began missing milestones like sitting and rolling over. When Ava turned 4, an evaluation at the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis indicated she would be an ideal candidate for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery. The procedure permanently reduces spasticity, or muscle tightness, caused by cerebral palsy. Two years later Ava underwent orthopedic surgery to straighten her legs.

“If Ava hadn’t had those surgeries, I know she wouldn’t be able to do the things she does now,” says Champe. “It’s fun to look at her gait analysis videos and watch her progress over the years.” 

“It was apparent very early on with Ava that she was a ball of energy and a really bright light,”  says Tom Novacheck, M.D. Novacheck is Ava's orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the James R. Gage Center for Motion Analysis.

Today Ava walks independently, only needing support from her leg braces. She participates in adaptive skiing and adaptive rock climbing. She embodies #kidsbeingkids.

Champe says Gillette shares her #kidsbeingkids philosophy—and supports her commitment to helping Ava realize her potential. “I want Ava to achieve her dreams, even if it requires some adaptation. So does Gillette. My job as Ava’s mom is to provide guidance and let her find her way.”

Ava is already finding her way. This year she sold more than 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Watch Ava's Gait and Motion Analysis Story on YouTube! 

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