Children who come to the RCC face daily challenges with determination and courage. The following are a selection of those success stories that profile some remarkable children and youth. Their strength and positive outlook are a source of encouragement for others. These are children who demonstrate ability every day.
Written by Hana B.
How would I describe Marianne? She's like this ray of sunshine that brightens up every room she walks into. Her infectious laugh and humongous grin could melt the heart of even the grumpiest of people on the darkest of days. She has the kind of determination and stubbornness that both inspires and infuriates us, depending on whether it's a case of her refusing to accept that she wasn't "meant" to walk or her refusing to accept that cake isn't meant for breakfast. She loves to dance and takes ballet with her five year old sister Elodie once a week. However, it should be noted that, ever the free spirit, she freestyles most of her moves. Marianne loves going to grade one every day and her shrieks and giggles can often be heard echoing down the halls of her school. Our family spends tons of time together baking, doing crafts, and going to Assiniboine Park. One of our favorite things to do is to snuggle up on blankets in front of the TV and eat dinner and watch a movie.
Marianne received a pommel walker from Children's Rehabilitation Foundation when she was around two, when we still believed that walking may not happen. Marianne, however, knew better and did not walk with the walker as we had hoped. No, she raced around the house with speed and confidence so foreign to us her family, that we didn't have time to put together a plan to keep our toes and walls safe and both fell victim to Marianne's newfound freedom of movement (and we'd never been happier).
From there, we had tricycles modified, hand splints made, and much more done at the Rehabilitation Centre for Children. Marianne was offered an iPad with apps that are designed to speak for those who have no voice. This amazing little creation who lit up a room with her smile, had no real way of communicating with us her needs, desires and feelings. The cerebral palsy had robbed her of her ability of talk but the iPad gave her back the ability to communicate. Now Marianne is learning how to "speak" using her iPad. She talks with her classmates at school, she orders food in restaurants, she fights with her sister, she tells us dinner is yucky - all on this device the foundation gave us. Everyone deserves the chance to be heard, to interact, to express oneself and Marianne now has that opportunity.
Our hopes for Marianne for the next five to ten years are the same as every parents', really. We want her to be happy. We want her to be successful at school. We want her to have friendships she values. We want her to clean up her room once in a while. Do these things look a bit different in how they will be executed? Yes. Does that matter? Nope. We want Marianne to reach her full potential, whatever that may be; and we count ourselves lucky to know there's a charity like the Children's Rehab Foundation out there, behind us every step of the way.
How has the Foundation helped us out? By helping our daughter to learn to walk, eat, and communicate. These are such fundamental parts of life, so very essential to one's independence and happiness, I don't know where Marianne would be without the Foundation.
Our general outlook on life varies with the kind of day we're having. Sometimes, having a physically and developmentally challenged child feels like too much pain to handle. But we allow ourselves to be guided by the brave little girl who reminds us that it will all be ok in the end. Is it the path we expected? The path we would choose? No. But it's the path we're on and with Marianne in front of us and the Rehab Foundation behind us, surely we will be ok. Advice to other families facing challenges - The lows families like us experience are lower than other families experience. But by god the highs are higher too. Celebrate everything you thought you weren't going to experience, no matter how small, because you have earned it.
There are no words to thank donors! How do you thank someone for enabling your child to walk? To communicate? Nothing can possibly express the gratitude we feel. Maybe Marianne will thank them herself when she's older?