Ayla’s Mum Erin Black smiles when she talks about what Ayla considered her best qualities. For a project at school, Ayla described herself as loving, caring, helpful, kind – and also sporty. Her Mum remarks that for a ‘kid with disabilities in a wheelchair’ to describe herself as sporty shows just what kind of person Ayla was. She saw no limits and found a way to do everything she wanted to do.
Ayla passed away at the age of eight and is remembered for her strong voice and belief in herself that she could do anything if she just asked. One of her favourite songs was from the Trolls movie: ‘I will get back up again.’ These are some of the lyrics:
I'm not giving up today
There's nothing getting in my way
And if you knock knock me over
I will get back up again, oh
If something goes a little wrong
Well you can go ahead and bring it on
'Cause if you knock knock me over, I will get back up again.
Described as ‘always singing’, Ayla had an affinity for music, song and dance from a young age. She loved her music therapy sessions at the Champion Centre and proclaimed to one of her brothers that: ‘I was born to sing!’
Erin says that she was either singing or talking and loved socialising at school and had a great group of friends – many who she met through her dance classes at Jolt Dance. From the age of five she took classes and enjoyed performing and working towards being on stage.
Ayla took her dance and sports pursuits very seriously. A fond memory for Erin is when she asked her Mum to take her on training runs so she could compete in school cross country. She leaned forward and pushed her powerchair to its speed limit.
Ayla was adventurous, confident and liked to get up to a bit of mischief too. She also had a love of the water and the beach after spending her early years by the sea and watching her Dad, Nick and brothers Myka and Jahquinn surf near her family home in North New Brighton. She tried out kayaking and enjoyed being in the pool because it gave her some freedom of movement – and she was fiercely independent.
Ayla left a huge impression on everyone she met and her life continues to be celebrated and remembered with a smile and a laugh.
Her dance company Jolt is putting on a show in her honour this October called ‘I will leave a light on’, with 100 dancers taking to the stage with support from Christchurch Symphony Orchestra musicians.
Erin is honoured to have Ayla remembered in this way and to continue giving her friends and fellow dancers a platform to express themselves.
Jolt presents ‘I will leave a light on’ at the Aurora Centre at Burnside High School, October 1st 7pm and October 2nd 10:30am and 7pm. Koha entry.
An enormous thank you to Ayla’s loving whānau for sharing her story and photos with us. Arohanui.