Wednesday 17 July 2019

'What makes me smile is when he’s smiling' - carer Jack (10) on his brother who has cerebral palsy

Jack on how his brother James makes him smile. Photo: RTE
Jack on how his brother James makes him smile. Photo: RTE
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Four young Irish people got a rapturous applause on last night's Late Late Show when they told how they selflessly look after their loved ones as carers.

One such carer was a boy called Jack Cooney (10) who told Ryan Tubridy how his 16-year-old brother James, who has cerebral palsy, always makes him smile.

The pair are inseparable, and Jack and James find times to have fun whether it’s sunny or raining.

“James turned 16 on Monday. He has cerebral palsy since he was born. He’s in a wheelchair, and he’s in Scoil Aonghusa in Cashel, the special needs school,” Jack said.

“If it’s sunny we play football or we go walking, and if it was a rainy day we’d go swimming, I’d read him a book or we’d do drama as well.”

Despite his best efforts, Jack finds it hard to get past goalie James on the pitch.

“James, even though he’s in a wheelchair, he goes in goal. I always put my best effort in but he somehow manages to save them.”

He added: “A person comes out every Thursday and does drama with me and James. We do activities. We read him a story or play a few instruments and then we play games, like hide things, and James goes around to find them with me.”

“What makes me smile is when he’s smiling. The second you see him or when he goes to bed, he’s always smiling. You’d never see him with a sad face, unless on a really rare occasion he’d be unhappy.”

“But he’s always smiling and it makes me honoured and happy to have him as a brother.”

Meanwhile, another carer Alexandra Ojoi (15) humbled presenter Ryan Tubridy when she told how she cares for her mother Susan who has chronic pain syndrome.

Before she gets herself ready for school, Alexandra showers her mother, cleans the house, and makes her younger brother's lunch.

“She has pain from her spine, her right leg, her neck. So she finds it really hard to move. She uses the wheelchair if she needs to go out and if she’s at home she has to use the crutches, and someone has to be there to assist her when she’s walking.”

“I wake up at around 6am and the first thing I do is I make sure she’s OK… If the pain’s not that bad I’d give her a shower and then I’d give her her medications and I make sure my brother is ready for school. He’s nine years of age.”

“He comes back home (from school) earlier than me so I just make sure everything is OK. I clean the house because she has OCD as well.”

Alexandra admitted that she finds her workload frustrating at times.

“I’ve been doing it for about five years now so I don’t really feel like it’s a chore for me. I’ve kind of got used to it now. It kind of becomes frustrating at times.”

“It just gets to me at times.”

But she added: “I actually feel like my Mom would do the same thing for me. She’s been caring for me for 15 years of my life.”

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