SMILING Keira Power is dancing her way into 2012 after an operation that gave her a new spring in her step.
The six-year-old is now able to walk and even dance – something her parents thought they would never see.
Keira was born with cerebral palsy, and painfully tight muscles in her legs meant she was only able to get round using a walking frame.
But a four-hour operation in America has changed her life.
The spinal surgery, which has released the agonising tension in her muscles, was paid for after her parents Sally and Jason Power raised £50,000 – with the help of readers of The News.
More than a year on, and the results have been staggering, with Keira now able to walk up to 30 steps independently.
She’s even joined a dance club at her school, Horndean Infants.
Her mum Sally, 39, of Goldcrest Close, Horndean, said: ‘She will happily show off her walking to anybody that will watch.
‘She loves to show people when we have had birthdays.
‘She’s just that bit more confident now in terms of moving around.
‘She’s still very nervous if she thinks she’s going to fall.
‘She talks about things she wants to do now. She joined the after-school dance club.
‘She would have struggled to do that at this time last year.’
Keira continues to get stronger – with her calves growing from 10cm in diameter to 20cm in just a year. But it’s still gentle steps forward for the youngster, who still uses a walking stick at school and her frame when she is in the playground.
Sally said: ‘It’s pretty much like someone in a car accident who has to stay in bed for six months. Her muscles were not developed before. For her she has to think about it. You can see her saying “foot move, foot move”. But she can do it now.
‘Yes it’s slow and wobbly, but it’s still there and it’s in its infancy.’
Keira has also become a strong swimmer and doesn’t need arm bands any more.
Sally said: ‘She never had the ability before to move her arms and legs quickly enough to keep herself afloat.
‘She can do 20m on her back unaided now and she can do five or six metres on her front.
‘For her it’s a huge achievement.’
Her family are now hoping that Keira continues to improve and one day she will be walking properly.
Sally said the operation had changed all their lives.
She said: ‘Without a shadow of a doubt it was worth it.
‘We would definitely do it again if we had to.’