Children with neurological conditions put their best foot forward yesterday at the inaugural Healthy Strides Foundation Move-A-Thon fundraiser for Telethon.
Kids like Brock Stone, 6, Nazeem Fahmi, 6, and Sophia Steyl, 2, are undergoing intensive therapy at the Healthy Strides Foundation to build confidence to take steps independently.
The East Victoria Park-based not-for-profit uses gravity-defying technology, known as Stride ZeroG, that helps children learn to walk without the fear of falling over.
Employees from Mineral Resources, which last year partnered with Telethon to bring Stride ZeroG to Western Australia, helped stage Sunday’s Move-A-Thon at the Optus Stadium precinct.
MinRes contributed more than $2 million to Telethon last year and matched the money raised at Sunday’s Move-A-Thon dollar for dollar.
Stride ZeroG, a computer-controlled body harness, has been life-changing for Brock, who lives with cerebral palsy and last week took a dozen unassisted steps.
It was a huge milestone for the Year 1 pupil at Kalamunda Primary Education Support Centre, with mum Amanda Little crediting his “amazing” progress to the Healthy Strides Foundation.
“Brock can’t walk unassisted – yet. I say ‘yet’ because he is so close. The change in his confidence has been huge. He’s now got confidence in spades, which is exactly what we want,” Amanda said.
Nazeem, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy with dystonia after he was resuscitated at birth, recently progressed to learning to walk with crutches after five years of therapy.
Mum Noraishah said Nazeem “loved” to use his walker to play with friends at Cooloongup Primary School and his increased mobility and independence had been transformative for the family.
“It was daunting before but now I can see the light. He can do a few things on his own that he couldn’t before, so it’s a great load off my mind,” she said.
“He’s so motivated and wanting to do things by himself. He thrives on the intensity of the therapy sessions and that’s why he’s progressed so much.”
Sophia was last year diagnosed with 3p deletion syndrome, an extremely rare condition that results when there is a missing copy of genetic material on chromosome 3.
She is nonverbal and unable to walk because of low muscle tone. Mum Melissa said getting appointments with specialists had been “the greatest source of frustration” on the family’s journey to support their daughter.
“Every provider we’ve reached out to has a very long wait list and you just wait months and months, but Healthy Strides went above and beyond to get us an assessment and into their next program,” Melissa said.
“Sophia can stand at a desk or couch but she can’t move around, so our goal would be for her to be able to cruise along furniture and use a walker so she has independence.
“She’s going to love the program because the main thing she wants to do is try and stand-up – she’s very motivated.”
Caption: Melissa and Anton with their daughters Lexie and Sophia.
MinRes Managing Director Chris Ellison said: “We were proud to help Telethon and Healthy Strides bring the life-changing Stride ZeroG therapy to WA and now we are seeing these kids build confidence, one step at a time.”
Healthy Strides Foundation founder Dayna Pool added: “We want children to get involved in events like fun runs no matter how they move. Whether it’s with a walking frame or wheelchair, it’s all about taking part without feeling like they are different.”