A young St. Thomas girl has been approved for a surgery that may help her walk for the first time.

Natalie Ouellette was 18 months old when she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

“Right away we noticed she wasn’t opening and closing her hands or moving her legs like an able newborn,” says Natalie’s mom Emily Ouellette.

Natalie is now three-and-a-half and her mom says she has never been able to walk independently.

“She wants to run and she wants to go and play with other kids and she can keep up with them, but not physically, so it’s hard for her at a park or family function to play with other kids.”

The cerebral palsy causes spasticity in Natalie’s legs which can be very painful for her.

The family had been hopeful that their daughter would qualify for a surgery called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

It’s not a common procedure in Canada and only a small percentage of children are approved for the surgery.

Now Natalie is about to be one of those children and will likely get the surgery early next year.

“They’re going to be going into her spine and snipping the affected nerves…taking away her spasticity permanently and hopefully giving her a chance to walk without a walker.”

After the surgery Natalie will spend three months with her mom at a rehabilitation centre in Toronto and then will have to undergo rigorous therapy.

It’s still a long road ahead but a road that her father Mike Ouellette says will be one step closer to a dream.

“I have reoccurring dreams of her running up to me in a park but not yet…but that could happen and we are really excited for her future.”

In order to pay for the costs of lost wages during Natalie’s stay in Toronto and for the year of therapy afterwards, the family has been raising money through a GoFundMe page.