Our Members - Their Stories
Nikayla will find a way
31 Mar 2023
From swimming events to skydiving – there’s no stopping Nikayla Wood.
By Melanie Louden
Nikayla Wood takes part in Tauranga’s Tinman Triathlon as a Team Biker.
Nikayla Wood lives and breathes by a simple mantra.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
The 25-year-old, from Rotorua has athetoid Cerebral Palsy which affects the movement of her hands, arms, feet, and legs. She is in a wheelchair fulltime.
Nikayla says talking, and everyday life, is “hard”.
“I’m always fighting with body control, so I can get tired easily.”
Nikayla describes herself as outgoing, with a good sense of humour and being very determined.
“Never say to me that I can’t do that, because I will find a way.”
She is also an adventure-junkie – she’s done a lot of jet boating, ifly-ing, skiing, skydiving and much more.
“I love doing anything that you can do.
“I like my sports, swimming, boxing and biking. I even do triathlon and swimming events.”
She also attends art classes.
“It’s my way to let go of everything else and it is my time out of all my sports.”
A proud team of supporters, including her mum, are by Nikayla’s side.
Nikayla says she first got the “adventuring buzz” when her family started 4-wheel driving when she was around nine years old.
“I loved it and I always wanted to go for a drive and I had so much fun. That was the first time I had that adventuring buzz.
“I still love anything like that, and every opportunity I get to do it, I take it.”
She often feels a nervous excitement when she is trying something new, or taking part in a swimming event.
Doing her skydive in 2020 was the most daunting of all the adventures she has been on.
“I was scared all that day. It was a rainy day – I was actually happy about this as I could tell my friends and family that I couldn’t do it because of the rain.
“When we arrived there, I was very scared and told my awesome caregiver ‘I can’t do this’. She talked to me and told me ‘yes, you are doing this’.”
Nikayla called her parents and they also convinced her to go ahead.
Just as Nikayla had her nerves under control, the instructors were ready to cancel the jump because of the weather. But just in time, it cleared enough for the skydive to go ahead.
“It was just an awesome jump, just at that moment it couldn’t be better. When we got back into the car it started raining again.”
Skydiving ended up being an experience that “couldn’t be better”.
Nikayla considers herself “lucky” to have an “awesome team back me up with everything I want to try. We always talk about how we can do [things].”
She has had support and input from Jezza Williams from Makingtrax who helped with activities she has completed in the South Island. Jezza, an adventure junkie himself, featured in the June edition of The Review.
“He goes around to tourist companies and tries to make them accessible for everyone.”
Nikayla says she is very proud of everything that she has done – “from going to my first concert, to skydiving, and everything in between”.
She is especially proud of being able to have a voice for people with disabilities and is encouraging Cerebral Palsy Society members to get out there and get into some adventuring.
“Give it a chance, or a good try, because you never know until you give it a go. Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Next on Nikayla’s list of things to do is completing the Ocean Swim Fiji Series – three 1km swims over five days.
It is being held in May and in the lead up to it Nikayla is swimming every chance she gets.
“I’m very excited for this as I am going with a couple of awesome friends. Plus, it will be my first time in Fiji.”
The Huka XStream River Swim is another extreme activity that Nikayla has ticked off her list.
She says she is blessed with a group of friends, and her “very awesome caregiver”, who all have a “mindset like me”.
“We always try to find something different to do.”
You can support Nikalya in her effort to get to Fiji, by donating on her Givealittle page.
This article was originally published in the January to April 2023 edition of The Review magazine.
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