They bicker all the time, often driving each other bonkers over the littlest of things – like who gets to use the iPad – but Ahmad Idzhar Adzly and his sister Izdihar Janna Adzly share a close bond that is apparent from the way they interact with each other.
They needle and tease each other – Janna is said to be the instigator – but they are also collaborators and co-conspirators and each other’s role models.
For Janna, who has cerebral palsy, her big brother is literally someone to lean on, day to day. “He carries me,” says Janna. “Not everyone has a brother who is as strong as Idzhar.”
The two recently took part in the Special Spartans, an obstacle course race for children with special needs in Semenyih, Selangor where Idzhar teamed up with his sister to go through the grueling course.
“There aren’t many photos of me because mummy was far behind,” says Janna, teasing her mother, Rafidah Ahmad.
Though she can walk with the help of a walker, Janna competed in the race in her wheelchair, with her brother assisting her throughout. “As her older brother, I do feel protective of her because there are things she can’t do and I have the urge to help her,” says Idzhar.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by a brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development.
Because of her injury, Janna cannot walk unassisted. She started physiotherapy and occupational therapy when she was eight months old, and has been attending various forms of therapy since then, which has improved her mobility.
Janna also goes for swimming and horse riding lessons apart from her daily academic lessons at a private centre in Kuala Lumpur.
“I came out first in the horse riding competition last month. I could control the horse holding the reins without my instructor … she just followed me from behind in case I did anything crazy,” says the chatty teen, flashing a toothy smile.
Idzhar, who just finished his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination and is hoping for a scholarship to study engineering, often goes with Janna to her classes, not only to support her physically but also to cheer her on.
“Though she cannot move her hands and legs so much, Janna is really good at interacting with others and for that I am grateful. Some people with CP can’t talk or socialise with others but Janna is good at that. She is very intelligent and is really fast in class. She can also play football,” says her brother, proudly.
He enjoys playing video games and, according to his sister, “he sleeps a lot”.
Used to his sister’s ribbing, Idzhar just smiles.
Idzhar is interested in mechanical engineering, likely inspired by his parents who are both engineers.
“My dad is a lecturer in Engineering and I remember going to his office once when I was younger and seeing all these creations in his office. I want to create something that can help make the lives of people with disabilities easier.
“If I can, I would like to make Malaysia more disabled-friendly because at the moment Malaysia doesn’t have a very good track record,” says Idzhar.