16-year-old Georgia girl says ‘superpower’ helps her dance her way through pain

ATLANTA — A Clayton County teenager born with a form of juvenile arthritis is inspiring others with the condition to carry on as best they can.

Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen says she’s doing it through dance.

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Kimora Barker sometimes comes to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for treatment. July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, and she is dancing her way through the 31 days.

The 16-year-old dancer has something of a secret identity that she’s willing to tell you about.

“It’s like a superpower of mine. I just bring it out,” says Barker.


Her mom learned of her disease shortly after Barker was born.

“The first thing I thought was, babies don’t have arthritis,’” says Barker’s mom, Shaveda Long.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, JIA for short, can cause severe swelling of the joint and, in Barker’s case, inflammation behind the eyes. She nearly lost her sight due to the inflammation’s severity. She’s had years of surgeries, procedures and treatments at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“I have taught Kimora to overcome any obstacle, and she has run with it all her life,” said Long.

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And she’s “danced” with it. She started as soon as she was old enough to walk, and she recently took part in CHOA’s “Never Settle Challenge,” a dance-off with Grammy-winning recording artist Ne-Yo to support the hospital.

Barker may always have to live with some pain, but she does what she loves and hopes to inspire others with JIA to do what they love.

“Now, I have a bigger purpose in life. I’m sharing my story,” said Barker. “This is what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. I plan on going big.”