It Takes the Community to Help a Child GrowThe Children’s Ability Fund is fortunate to be able to help so many families and hear the stories of how the funding we provide helps to make their lives a little bit easier. We are touched by the rewarding experience our staff receives when they visit the homes and schools of the children we have helped. We have learned one very important fact of life- It takes a community to provide the best environment for nurturing each unique individual.
Brian is one of our most recent funding recipients. He has a severe case of Athetoid Spastic Cerebral Palsy. Through a variety of organizations, his family has received funding and access to equipment that has helped make Brian’s life, and theirs, more active and enjoyable.
CP is not a disease or an illness; it is a chronic condition affecting body movements and muscle coordination. An individual with CP has had an injury to their brain, usually during fetal development or infancy. The condition is not progressive, and children who have CP will live with it all of their lives. The most common characteristic of Cerebral Palsy is the inability to fully control motor function resulting in involuntary movements, muscle spasms and tightness, and the impairment of sight, hearing, or speech.
The biggest challenge of the disability for Brian is that he is wheelchair dependent and dependent for all care. Until recently, Mom & Dad were manually lifting Brian into a car seat which he had outgrown. To fit in the family’s old vehicle, Brian’s specialized wheelchair had to be taken apart, which is very hard on the components. The whole process took over 10 minutes at each end of any journey. The Children’s Ability Fund recently provided the family with a $10,000 grant to help purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Now Brian is able to stay in his wheelchair which gives him the support and comfort he needs, and wheel directly into the van. The family chose a manual retractable ramp because of the low maintenance and trouble free usage. Loading Brian into the new van takes less than 3 minutes.
The total cost of the van was substantial. Along with the family’s contribution toward the cost, it took a partnership of four organizations to assist with this purchase. This is not the only multi-organization funding the family has received.
In 2008, with funding from The Children’s Ability Fund and the Cerebral Palsy Association, a modified bike was purchased for Brian. It is an excellent therapeutic activity for him as it facilitates joint range of motion and encourages him to practice control over his athetoid (involuntary or uncontrolled) movements. Brian pedals well- he enjoys going very quickly down the hallways at school and around the school block. The exercise is helping him loosen his hamstring muscles, increasing his hand control, trunk control, and even helps with decision making. Brian prefers any mode of transportation other than a wheelchair!
Like any kid, Brian likes going fast on his bike. This grade 8 student’s interests would mirror those of any other 13 year old boy- “music, girls, cars and watching videos”. He also loves the sound of a fire truck’s siren and the tactile experience of brushing his physical therapist’s hair. These sensory interactions are an important part of therapy for Brian, as is his time in a Snoezelen Room.
In 1998 we provided funding for a Snoezelen Room at Rosecrest Home (a short term relief care facility). The focus of these rooms is non-directive therapy providing a multi-sensory experience or single sensory focus. There are visual stimuli in the form of bubble tubes, fibre optics, and projectors; tactile expressions with soft furnishings, mats, cushions, and textures; music and aromatherapy to stimulate the auditory and olfactory systems; as well as ball pools, rockers, and swings. The environment can be customized for each individual to provide them with a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Watching Brian grow over the years has provided a connection with him and his family that we are privileged to experience with a great number of our clients. The Children’s Ability Fund thanks you, our supporters, for continuing to enhance the independence of people with disabilities in your community!