Six-year-old Langford resident Ava Secuur is proving small is mighty.
Ava has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, and has spent numerous nights in BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. After a bad fall when she was three years old, she showed signs of stenosis – when the spaces in the spine narrow and create pressure on the spinal cord – which required a nine-hour operation.
“We packed her bags knowing that when we were going to go there, we weren’t coming back until it was done,” said Ava’s mother Shannon.
For nearly three weeks, Ava was in the hospital recovering and staff were a great help and comfort to her, Shannon and Ava’s father Christopher throughout that “extremely scary time.”
Ava will return to the hospital a couple of times a year until she’s 18 for check-ins related to her dwarfism. Despite those challenges early in her life, she determinedly moves through the world with a smile on her face.
“It’s annoying because she kind of has to explain why she’s so small and people continuously just tell her that she’s a baby but after like one or two sessions of something new, she’s so confident in who she is that she’s just like, ‘I’m small. What else is new?’”
Ava has a number of hobbies, including hip-hop dance classes and Beaver Scouts – she enjoys going on hikes and camping trips with her dad (and eating pancakes).
“When I knew that I had dwarfism, I didn’t really want to have to do that because I didn’t know anyone else – any other people that have dwarfism,” said Ava. “It kind of made me upset.”
There’s some teasing at school that Secuur sometime struggles with, but her parents say her personality quickly shines through, adding she’s always quick to make friends.
“By the time she’s in high school, everyone’s already adjusted to and known her for so long. She’s kind of famous in Langford. People say, ‘Oh, there’s Ava. And I’m referred to – I don’t have a name, I’m ‘Ava’s dad.’”
Back in November, Ava added superhero to her list of hobbies, as she fought off a paper monster as part of a video campaign for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation called “Small is Mighty.”
“The ‘Small is Mighty’ campaign came at such a paramount time because Ava for the most part has been pretty good about being different. But in the last couple of months, she’s starting to have a lot more, ‘Why-me?’ conversations. So the campaign came out at a perfect time for us because it just gave her that bit of confidence boost,” said Shannon.
The campaign supports multiple initiatives at the hospital. To learn more, go to bit.ly/3ncRHoU.