Despite the challenges of cerebral palsy, Martyna Wolanska is completing a degree, learning to drive and inspiring others.
The 21-year-old was born in Poland premature, at seven months old, when her mum fell ill with pneumonia.
Doctors explained that Martyna had cerebral palsy, a lifelong condition affecting her movement and co-ordination.
The symptoms are different for everyone and are usually caused by issues when the baby’s brain is developing or gets damaged.
For Martyna, it led to problems with both her legs and her left hand.
“I can’t use the single crutches, so I have tripods,” she explained.
“And I use a wheelchair for long distances.”
Her family moved to Scotland when she was four, in search of somewhere more accessible to live.
Martyna said: “In Poland at the time, where we were living wasn’t very accessible.
“It’s a lot better than it used to be but it wasn’t very common to see disabled people around town.”
At first, the family moved to Orkney, later relocating to a house near Elgin.
And she said friends and neighbours have always been supportive and motivating.
“Even though I have some struggles getting about, I did quite a lot when I was younger,” she recalled.
“When I was in primary school we went to the Old Man of Hoy.
“My mum and I initially thought it wasn’t going to work, but my class helped me get up there.
“They put me in a wheelchair and we had two ropes with four people on each side to pull me along – and I managed to get up there.
“It was quite shocking – I didn’t think it was doable – but it shows how teamwork can help.”
Horse riding stopped her needing invasive surgery
There was also a surprise lying in wait when Martyna tried horse riding.
At the time she was on the verge of needing surgery for a hip subluxation – a less severe form of dislocation that’s quite common among people with cerebral palsy.
The family hoped a new pastime could help ease that, as well as the likes of her balance.
And it was more successful than they expected, with such an improvement to her condition that she no longer needed the invasive operation.
“We knew it would help but I don’t think we were expecting it to help as much as it did,” she added.
Martyna is also finding her freedom with a new accessible car she’s learning to drive.
While she had to wait 10 months for the Volkswagen T-Cross to arrive, it’s kitted out with dual controls and other accessibility features.
This means she can take it for a spin with dad Marek as she gains her confidence on the roads.
Sharing her story
She’s also written about her experiences behind the wheel on her blog, My Life With Cerebral Palsy.
Martyna’s no stranger to writing either, as she’s currently working on a literature degree at UHI.
She also speaks about her personal life, and handy tips about the likes of accessible kitchen utensils and gadgets.
Her writing has reached hundreds – including one little girl whose mum found Martyna’s blog.
“She approached me and said she’d been reading it,” she added.
“Her daughter had been quite lonely with her disability – she has cerebral palsy as well – and she said it’s helped her a lot.
“I didn’t think it would go very far as it’s not a massive blog.
“But a couple of people have found me [through it] which is really nice.”