Like many students, Valeria Reyes Chian first found her interest in sports, specifically tennis, when she was 9 years old during her elementary school years. She played in community tennis programs throughout middle school, and as a high school freshman this school year, chose to participate in her school community by playing sports. As a freshman at Chantilly High School, Valeria tried out and earned one of 16 spots on the girls Varsity Tennis team- using her wheelchair.
Valeria has spina bifida, a birth defect where the bones of the spine (vertebrae) do not form properly around part of the spinal cord. She uses a walker to walk shorter distances in her home, and a wheelchair for longer distances at school and in the community.
What makes Valeria an exceptional student and individual, is her determination and drive to be her best, not only with tennis, but also as a scholar athlete, studying and working hard with her academics and learning. She is defined by her determination and potential, and not by her physical challenges.
As a young child, Valeria was not sure what she could do using a wheelchair. Her parents supported her in trying many different sports and activities, and when Valeria met a wheelchair tennis player at a picnic hosted by a rehabilitation hospital, she learned it was possible to participate in a sport using a wheelchair. She recognized her potential, and began practicing and playing, and found something she was very good at, and enjoyed. In 2010, Valeria won the division C singles and circuit title in the Truong Wheelchair Tennis Grand Prix. Her success continues as she won her spot on the varsity team.
Like her classmates, Valeria is looking ahead and planning for the future; getting her driver’s license, selecting classes, graduation, college, and a career. Valeria is an exceptional individual who represents what is possible to achieve with self determination and the support of family, school and community.
Written by Deb Rose, PT, DPT, PCS
Physical Therapist, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Pediatric Certified Specialist
Fairfax County Public Schools
Therapy Services- Leis Center
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Irene Meier, Director
Office of Special Education Instruction
Robin Sheare, Web Development Specialist
May 11, 2012