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Russian children fly free from challenges of cerebral palsy 

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Marian Dolik, 13, who suffers from cerebral palsy, prepares to enter a vertical wind tunnel while competing in an indoor parachuting championship in Moscow on April 23, 2021. Photos: Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP

Clad in a green jumpsuit and helmet, Maryan Dolik walks with hesitation as he enters the glass compartment of an indoor skydiving simulator. Within seconds he is swept up by a powerful gust of air, forgetting the physical limitations caused by his cerebral palsy. Although the 13-year-old finds it difficult to walk down a set of stairs, inside the vertical wind tunnel he has learnt to fly and has already reaped the benefits of this unusual therapy.  “I’ve started walking better, become stronger and have better endurance,” the slim blond boy tells AFP with a smile.  “I want to achieve a lot, to start doing everything on my own without anyone’s help,” Dolik says, adding that in the future he wants to become an indoor skydiving instructor. Dolik was selected to participate in Russia’s “Fly with Me” project that helps children with cerebral palsy improve their physical capabilities. Under the guidance of his coach, Dolik trains once a week at a centre in Russia’s second city St Petersburg. His mother Irina Dolik says that after three months of lessons his “range of movement is increasing”. “He feels more coordinated,” she says. While the use of flying simulators for therapy is...

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