Young Ruby's Story

Ruby was only 10 years old when she witnessed her mum, Paula, having a stroke.


"My first thought was 'what's happening to her?'" Ruby recalls.

An ambulance arrived to rush Paula to the hospital, where she remained for seven weeks. She had a tough recovery ahead of her, with her entire right side initially paralysed. 

"It was quite hard, watching her go through it," Ruby says.

While stroke is often associated with older age groups, 25 to 30 percent of strokes happen to people under 65. This means that many stroke survivors still have children living at home and grappling with the aftermath. 

"I wasn't there emotionally [for Ruby] like I would've been before my stroke," Paula reflects. "It wasn't until after, that I could even comprehend the impact it must have had on Ruby.  We've tried to explain to her as much as we could why I can't do some things now or why some things are difficult."

Three years on, Paula's stroke still has a profound impact on their family. "It's definitely not back to normal but it is a new normal for us now," Ruby says.

Paula agrees that life has changed. "There's not a day that goes by that we don't discuss something about my stroke." 


This open discussion has led to Ruby, now 13, using her experience to educate herself and others about stroke. 

"When the science fair came around, I really wanted to know more about stroke, so I based my topic on that," she explains.

She carried out extensive research, as well as drawing on her own experience. Her project covered different kinds of stroke, neuroplasticity, rehabilitation, and the impact of stroke.

Ruby's project was selected for the regional Marlborough Science and Technology Fair, where it received a highly commended award. 

"I'm very, very proud of Ruby," Paula says. "She put so much hard work into [the project]. She researched and was coming back and telling me things that I didn't even know!"

Ruby has found that learning more about stroke helped her understand what her own family went through. "It helped me comprehend everything that's happened," Ruby says of her project.

As well as learning more about stroke, Ruby's advice for other young people in her position is to understand that, while recovery is tough for the survivor, remember that "they still love you the same".

Paula says that whether you're the stroke survivor, caregiver or family of the survivor, "just reach out. It's okay to feel confused and devastated, but don't hold that in. Reach out to people because you're not alone."


Resources for rangatahi and tamariki whose parent of loved one has had a stroke, can be found here: 


Ruby and Paula (her mum)