Gianna Rojas was born in 1962 in Bath, Maine and soon discovered life presented her with challenges. She was born without fingers on her left hand, into a military family which relocated every few years. She had to learn how to build rapport and new friendships with the other kids very quickly and her outgoing personality was a big plus. Unfortunately, however, having one hand often made her the target of school bullies. Once, she was even pushed into her locker at school and trapped in it for 3 hours. Events like that helped to build her strong, empathetic character. She dedicates herself to helping those facing similar challenges.
In past Inspirations blogs we have highlighted the work of inspiring yoga instructors – Marcia Danzig who teaches Yoga for Amputees and Yoga for Children and William Amos, teaching those who need the calming balance of yoga to deal with PTSD. Now we have our own certified Yoga teacher – Brooke Artesi, CPO/LPO and owner/CEO of Sunshine Prosthetics & Orthotics.
Brooke completed her 200 hour teacher training under Michelle Petersen, the director of BEYOGA, focusing on structural alignment, the breath and a steady focus to the practice. Yoga can open the practitioner to the limitless energy within, teaching patience, compassion and self-acceptance.
“I’ve been doing yoga since college. I did the teacher training to deepen my practice but also to use it for the amputee community. I want to use it for support groups and mentoring at Camp No Limits.”
Brooke continued her yoga practice through her pregnancies, focusing on balance and understanding the adaptations that can be made to adjust for physical abilities. She brings this understanding and knowledge to her O&P patients and will bring it to those practicing yoga with her.
Sharing her yoga practice with those with physical limitations allows Brooke to encourage and guide them towards self-awareness, acceptance, and stress and anxiety reduction. Being able to adapt the postures to the student’s physical capabilities brings yoga to those who thought they could not do the poses and exercises.
Wanting to share her passion for yoga and all of its mind-body benefits with those who thought they were not capable of the practice makes Brooke Artesi our Inspiration.
During the month of April across the United States, amputee support groups, veterans, prosthetists, rehabilitation centers and those with limb loss will be participating in a number of activities in their local areas to raise awareness.
“Limb loss is not uncommon and is becoming less uncommon every day,” says Susan Stout, Amputee Coalition president & CEO “Many people are unaware of the causes of amputation and often see limb loss in just a few categories: the wounded warrior or the accomplished athlete. The fact is, limb loss affects every generation, from young to old and people from all walks of life. More than 2 million Americans live with limb loss and that number grows by 185,000 each year. “
Many people with limb loss have become mentors and advocates to others, raising public awareness and educating on adaptability, prevention and making yourself heard. This month we’d like to highlight just a few of these people.
The PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games are taking place between March 9 and March 18th this year, featuring up to 670 athletes, a 24 per cent increase on the 539 athletes that competed at Sochi 2014 with a 44 per cent increase in the number of female athletes. Athletes compete in 80 medal events across six sports: cross-country skiing, biathlon, ice hockey, snowboard and wheelchair curling.
The 41st Annual Empire State Building Run-Up is the first and most famous tower race in the world, challenging runners to race up its famous 86 flights – 1,576 steps, a vertical distance of 1,050 feet. The 2018 ESBRU took place on Wednesday evening, February 7th, sponsored by Turkish Airlines and joined by the Challenged Athletes Foundation. CAF is the world leader in helping people with physical challenges lead active and healthy lifestyles and encouraging independence.
More than 200 people from around the world raced up the 86 stories to the famed observation deck. The CAF runners fundraise to help raise awareness and much-needed donations so people with permanent physical challenges gain access to adaptive sports equipment, athletic training, an active lifestyle, community and mentorship. Each CAF runner raises a minimum of $2500 for the charity.