Ava Ludewig


Ashton Newswanger

“Growing up, I was a really shy child. I did not like people in general. I was an only child, and I really grew up by myself…When I was ten, my mother took me to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and I was diagnosed with Scoliosis. Normally, they give advice and preventative measures, but I got a back brace. 20 hours of the day, seven days of the week. […]

I didn’t look like my peers—I couldn’t relate anymore. I wouldn’t talk to anyone, and I didn’t have many friends. It was really hard being a young kid and not feeling like I was one. I missed pivotal steps because I couldn’t just go out and play sports. I couldn’t go jump on a trampoline or go ride a bike. So at age ten, I was already severely separated from my peers.

There were a couple moments with my back brace that really stuck with me. I remember I was babysitting and this little boy touched my back. He got all scared. He asked if I was made of metal and that made me even more aware of my brace’s existence. It’s something I’ll never forget.

I was wildly insecure in my own skin during a fundamental time period of my life. Growing up and being older, it definitely put it into perspective how pivotal those years were for me. I got my back brace when I was ten, and I finally got it off when I was 14. I feel I really cemented who I was and my personality during this time. To this day I feel like I missed out on a large part of my childhood. I didn’t really have one. And now, I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time. I was tucked away from the world and now I’m trying to grow out of it. I’m 18 years old, and I still feel like my 11 year old self who doesn’t want to be seen sometimes and is embarrassed of how I look. I don’t really know where to go from here or build what I lost…I’m grateful for what I have now—the friends, family, the life ahead of me. But life’s scary, and I’m trying to make up for the childhood I wasn’t afforded. One step at a time.”