LIZZIE Kilby dreamed of being a runner.
As a child, it was all she ever wanted. She dreamt of running for Essex and competing in the Olympics.
But her hopes and dreams where left in tatters when she was diagnosed with Ehlers–Danlos syndrome.
The condition occurs when the body’s collagen is defective causing joints to repeatedly and regularly dislocate.
Lizzie started to use a wheelchair when she was ten and by the time she was 13, she was in it permanently.
“I was the fastest runner in primary school,” she said.
“I used to run with a club and I did trampolining. To be a runner was all I ever dreamed of, I set my heart on it.
“All of that disappeared within seconds of me getting in the wheelchair.”
But Lizzie is a fiesty and determined woman and her inate stubborness means she is not one to give up easily.
She went to college where she studied health and social care and did work placements in mainstream and special needs schools.
Today, she works as a teaching assistant but, as with everything in Lizzie’s life, it hasn’t been an easy journey.
One of her work placements was at Lexden Springs School in Halstead Road, Colchester. She loved the school so much she returned as a volunteer.
Then she became a midday assistant and then a part-time learning support assistant before working her way up to her current job.
But every day Lizzie battles with pain as her joints - her wrists, fingers, ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, even her vertebrae - dislocate.
Her husband Tom, who is also a teaching assistant at the school, said: “She can have 30 dislocations a day, five before 9am.”
Calmly, stoically, Lizzie pops the joints back into position.
She wears splints on her wrists, hips, legs to try to keep them straight.
But despite the pain, she defiantly refuses to let the condition rule her life.
As a child, her legs began to bow and she had to have her bones broken at the knee and ankle, twisted back straight and pinned.
She had a cast from her foot to her hip but was back at the Gilberd School within a week.
In five years working at Lexden Springs School, she has only had eight days off sick.
She has become an inspiration to the children who are also dependent on wheelchairs.
“One of the students especially is really clever and capable but like me, her body is a bit rubbish,” said Lizzie.
“I think she has seen that just because you are in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you give up.”
Lizzie agreed to be interviewed, not for her own sake but to support the 100,000 Smiles appeal.
The appeal aims to raise £100,000 to create a playground for the disabled children at Lexden Springs School.
Lizzie understands what it is like to be excluded by being in a wheelchair.
She said: “When you are in a chair you can’t go on a playground.
“It is not suitable for the swings or the roundabout.
“Play is so important for children’s learning and development and it would be absolutely amazing for the children to have a playground of their own, especially the ones in wheelchairs.
“If they go on trips, they have to sit and watch.
“For them to be able to play with their friends would be a dream come true.”