When Emilie was three years old, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. However, it wasn’t until she was missing her major development milestones, like rolling over and taking her first steps, that Emilie’s mother, Ashley, knew something was wrong.
“Like any parent, it was hard,” Ashley says. “We didn’t know what to expect. Emilie was three and not walking. I had to leave my full-time job and dedicate my time to making our home accessible.”
Emilie, now a bright, active eight-year-old, who loves going to school where she is a very enthusiastic member of her school choir.
“Emilie is like any eight year old,” says Ashley. “But when it may take other kids 20 minutes to accomplish something, it takes Emilie 10 times longer.”
Emilie struggles with balance issues, especially on uneven ground, and needs to use ankle-foot orthotics (AFO) for mobility. Although she has progressed from being reliant on a walker and wheelchair, she still faces challenges and becomes frustrated.
“If you’re not in this situation, you just don’t know,” Ashley states. “There are expenses no one thinks about, something as simple as getting out of bed or using the bathroom is difficult because Emilie doesn’t have enough balance to stand or sit, so she needs a grab bar. Every step she takes on the ground she needs the support of a railing. And there is no government funding for these types of accessibility items.”
That’s why Ashley turned to Easter Seals for help.
Last year, Easter Seals helped more than 785 families receive funding for vital mobility and accessibility equipment. Will you help Easter Seals continue to be there for children like Emilie this year?
Caring for a child with a physical disability is expensive. It can cost nearly $40,000 a year to meet just the basic needs of a child with a severe physical disability including extra family expenses such as home renovations, adaptive equipment, adapted vehicles, time away from work and home for medical appointments and surgeries, and the cost of caregivers to name a few.
Of the families who requested financial assistance from Easter Seals in 2018 and self-identified their household income level, 48% had a total annual income under $40,000, and 25% had a total family income under $20,000.
Having essential mobility and accessibility equipment is vital in providing a safe home environment not only for children like Emilie but also for the family and caregivers. It is also critical for a child’s growth and development and enabling participation in community activities such as going to the library or taking swimming lessons.
There is limited government funding available for home accessibility equipment like the grab bars and rails she needs to be able to stand, sit or use the bathroom.
But thanks to our donors, Emilie will soon have accessibility-approved grab bars and railings installed, especially in the bathroom. “Preserving Emilie’s dignity and allowing her to be as independent as possible is so important to us,” says Ashley. “Something as simple as being able to use the bathroom without one of us standing over her means so much.”
That is why your support is so important.
Easter Seals is the primary charity assisting families with the cost of essential mobility and accessibility equipment. Without Easter Seals’ support, many children will not get the vital equipment they need for safety, mobility and accessibility.
As Ashley says, “nobody else picks up the pieces for kids. We couldn’t do it without Easter Seals.”
Please send your gift today. Together, we can help ensure no child with a physical disability is left waiting for their equipment.