They get younger all the time...

Rhea Kara, a schoolgirl from Clapham, south London, is only nine. Moved by the suffering of a classmate who developed Rett syndrome, a severe physical and mental disability, she painted and sold pictures to raise funds for the charity Reverse Rett.

I bet she was given a gold star...

Better than that. Rhea has just been awarded a Point of Light community award by David Cameron. The award recognises “outstanding individuals – people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others”.

Well deserved!

“Rett syndrome is an illness which does not allow you to use your body any more,” Rhea said. “You suddenly can’t use your hands or legs and are trapped in your own body. I cannot imagine how I would feel if this happened to me. I would not be able to paint or do arts and crafts any more.”

What is Rett syndrome?

It is a rare neurological disorder, caused by a genetic mutation which almost exclusively affects young girls. Among other things, it can cause arrested development, stunted head growth, scoliosis and epileptic seizures. It can also lead to the loss of speech and movement. However, it is not related to structural brain damage. Scientists are uncertain what causes the condition.

How much did Rhea raise?

Although she set out to sell 100 pictures in 100 days, Rhea beat her target and managing to sell 166, raising more than £4,000. While this was enough to get her an award from the Prime Minister, she hasn’t stopped there. She plans to sell another 100 works of art by this weekend.

How’s the research going?

There is currently no cure for Rett’s, and treatment is focused on management of the condition. However, there have been some successful attempts in mice to reverse Rett Syndrome.

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