Hi! I'm Ella. I am currently 13 years old and in 8th grade. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was five years old with a very small curve, so the doctors just decided to have me come back every six months to monitor my curve. When I was nine years old, my curves had progressed to 20 and 25 degrees, and I was put in my first back brace. Being so young at the time, I had a hard time processing what scoliosis even was and why I had to wear this ugly contraption around my torso 20-22 hours a day. After the confusion was resolved, I felt very alone and different. I was the only fourth grader on the playground that couldn't run for hours and do cartwheels. I started to feel insecure with who I was and I wanted to try to hide a part of me.
My mom and I were scrolling on the internet one day and found Curvy Girls. I was so excited to have finally found some other girls just like me! Shortly after I joined the Austin group, the former leader decided to step down. I didn't hesitate to take over the position. Our new group started from scratch, but over the two years I have been leading, we have gained so many new members and girls like me with scoliosis!
Apart from helping others and being a leader, I have a passion for dance and singing! I am an officer on my school dance team and am in the choir. I have two dogs, a golden retriever named Bella and a foxhound named Daisy, that I absolutely love. I also have a little brother and adopted little sister!
Over the years, I have developed a third curve, and my spine currently sits at 31, 18, and 15 degrees. 4 years of bracing and 3 braces later, I just got the news that I am finally brace free! I truly believe that scoliosis has changed me for the better and I have become a better person because of it. If I could go back in time and take away my scoliosis, I wouldn't do it. I have been given so many unique opportunities that I would never have experienced without my brace. Together, we can fight scoliosis!
I first got diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was 8 years old. Originally, my parents and I had noticed that my shoulders were slightly uneven while taking passport photos when I was 7. My dad kept telling me to relax one shoulder, but it felt crooked to me to have them even for the photo. He brought up the issue at my next doctor’s appointment, and we were sent for an x-ray.
When I was diagnosed by the orthopedic surgeon, I was very surprised. And even MORE surprised when my physician prescribed a scoliosis brace. I thought that my curve was so mild that it would be a “watch and wait” thing, but as I learned, because of my age, I was considered to have a high risk of curve progression during adolescence. I didn't think the brace would be something that defines me! While flooded with emotions when leaving the physician’s office, I noticed a poster for the Austin Chapter of Curvy Girls, and it had a picture of the Chapter Leader, Ella on it. It was so comforting to know there were other girls going through the same thing I was! I made it to the next CG meeting.
After being inspired by Ella, I started to wear my brace over my clothes and stopped trying to hide my scoliosis. I even gave a presentation to my whole school about bracing and my journey with scoliosis. About several months, my spine physician said that I was being so extroverted about bracing, that he wanted to feature me in the local news to promote a new, low-dose x-ray machine being used in Austin, the EOS. It was a chance for to share positive news about scoliosis and CG’s publicly.
I am so happy to be a Co-Leader with Ella, and I am very excited to help lead the Austin Chapter. Sometimes, scoliosis smacks you in the face, and the best way to handle it is just emBrace it.
Other facts about me: I was born in New Zealand, I love to read, do aerial yoga, and play with my Old English Sheepdog.
Hi! My name is Kendall and I am the leader of the Curvy Girls Group in Dallas Texas. I was diagnosed with scoliosis in the 5th grade when we had a school screening. I failed the screening and was recommended to a scoliosis doctor. I made an appointment but I wasn't really worried since my scoliosis was not able to be seen physically and I didn't have any pain. The doctor ended up diagnosing me with scoliosis and I was immediately placed in a Boston Brace which I had to wear for 20 hours a day. Since then I have worn a total of three different types of braces, done Schroth Physical Therapy, and had surgery in 2015.
I have been dancing since I was two and fell in love with Irish dance when I was 7. Through all of my struggles with scoliosis, I have continued to dance. When everything around me was changing and scoliosis was affecting all aspects of my life, dance was the one thing that remained the same and that I could control. I couldn't control whether or not my spine got worse. I wore my brace for 20 hours everyday yet my curves still continued to increase. However, I could control how often I practiced dance, and how dedicated I was. So if I wasn't at school or doing homework I was at the studio, and that is still how I am. When I decided to have the surgery, my biggest concern was being out of dance for six months, however, I knew that the surgery was the best decision for me long term. The months went by faster than I thought they would, and I came back stronger than I was before the surgery.
In the two years since my surgery I have qualified for the National Championships and World Championships of Irish Dance. Although I have had to deal with a lot of adversity with scoliosis, it has taught me more lessons than I can count about resilience, perseverance, and not giving up. I love running my Curvy Girls Group so I can teach girls those same lessons and give them the support needed to deal with scoliosis.
Hi! My name is Ryleigh and I’m excited to be leading the Curvy Girls Houston Group. At the age of 12 years old and in the midst of a successful gymnastics career, I was shocked to find out I was born with a spine defect (hemivertebra). After receiving the diagnosis of congenital kyphoscoliosis, my parents decided to retire me from the sport I’d loved since I was 3 years old. Although I felt somewhat lost at the time, I remained optimistic that there were greater things to come. I immediately changed my focus over to diving and training American Ninja Warrior obstacles.
Things were going great and I was starting to love my “new life”, but after only 4 months my doctor recommended surgery to stop the progression of my kyphosis. I ended up having 4 back surgeries in a 13-month-period due to complications. Everything moved very quickly for me after my diagnosis so there was never really any form of treatment prior to surgery. I did, however, get braced after both my third and last surgeries (mostly for support and protection). I am fused between T4-T10 (6 screws, 4 hooks and 2 rods).
I was fully released from my 2-year surgical journey in September of 2017 and resumed my diving training right away. With only one full season of diving, I was able to place 5th and 6th in the 2018 National AAU Championships. Around that same time, I became aware of an opportunity to be a part of the first season of American Ninja Warrior Junior and I knew it would be a perfect platform to bring awareness to scoliosis. I applied and quickly picked up my ninja training and was selected out of over 6000+ junior athletes to compete in Los Angeles.
Through my exposure with ANWJR, I was contacted by author Alyson Gerber who reached out to offer me an autographed copy of her book Braced. When I looked her up I realized she was involved with Curvy Girls and I became interested in the organization and knew I wanted to be a part. I soon found out that the Houston group was without a leader and felt led to step up and lead the group. I know for me this scoliosis journey has been the most challenging obstacle I’ve faced in life, but I also know if given the opportunity I wouldn’t change a thing! It has truly taught me that my ability is greater than my disability. With courage and Bravery, we will face our challenges TOGETHER!
Meet Kimberly & Annette
2013-14 San Antonio
2014-15 Lake Charles, LA
2014-16 San Antonio
San Antonio Texas
Greetings! My name is Kimberly (or Kim). I was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2009. On the last day of my fifth grade year, I came home with my backpack on, the left strap constantly slipping off my shoulder. No matter how much my mom adjusted the strap, it would still slip off. My mom then removed the backpack and noticed that the problem wasn’t the backpack straps; my shoulders were uneven. The next day I went to my pediatrician, and she diagnosed me with “idiopathic scoliosis.” It was the first time I heard those two words, and I was completely unaware of the journey soon to come.
I was directed to order a brace and began wearing it in July of 2010. At first, it was painful and uncomfortable, but once I warmed up to it, I decided to name my brace Cindy. Cindy and I had an “up and down relationship”; she gave me cuts and marks every day, but ultimately, she helped straighten my spine from about a 37-25 degree curve to one of 17-10. I have gone through two braces within six years. Just last year, my orthopedic doctor stated that my treatment was complete and I didn’t have to wear my brace anymore. Alas, I was free! However, I continue to wear my brace at night to maintain my spine in its straighter position until I turn 18 and my bones have matured.
It has been quite the adventure, and ever since my eyes were opened to reality of having scoliosis, I wanted to spread awareness. Recently, I have found Curvy Girls, and I was eager to join so that I could help many others through their own scoliosis journey. I became a Leader for Rio Grande Valley in 2016 and now for San Antonio. I would like to help many young girls become more confident with who they are, and go through this exciting Curvy Girls adventure together.
I had been running all summer training for cross country and the school year was weeks away. I sat there in the hospital waiting for my yearly physical exam to commence. Throughout the examination I followed all the directions my doctor asked me to do. He asked, “Reach and touch your toes.” After doing so, he pointed out that something was off. “Your shoulder blades look uneven,” he said. I saw him scribble something on his clipboard. Next thing I knew, I had been diagnosed with Mild Scoliosis. My curve degrees are 23.2, 22.7.
After that day, I was no longer the same Annette I used to be. I still continue my passions for long distance running, painting, drawing and making connections with others. Scoliosis changed my life when it became a part of my life. We will all face adversity and challenges throughout life. Having the opportunity to lead a support group after being diagnosed with scoliosis has changed my outlook on leadership. Being a leader is the beginning to helping others as I have received help.