© contributed photo
Kimmie Long and her family have been blessed with education and assistance thanks to the War Amps. It has changed their lives for the better.
Debbie Long says she’s grateful to the support her family has received from the War Amps ever since her daughter Kimmie was born five years ago missing part of her forearm and right hand.
The family, who lives in Summerville, was involved with the War Amps before Kimmie celebrated her first birthday, Long said during a recent phone interview.
“We’ve been taking Kimmie to a centre in New Brunswick at the University of New Brunswick (for her prosthesis) and they’ve been helping us out ever since,” Long said.
Kimmie and her mother have attended regional child amputee (CHAMP) seminars where they learn about the latest in artificial limbs. Topics such as dealing with teasing and bullying and parenting an amputee child are also discussed.
“These seminars help Kimmie a lot because she sees that she’s not the only child (with an amputation). The children participate in all kinds of activities. The War Amps have been great,” Long said.
Long said the first seminar she attended was “heartbreaking.” However, once she met other families she soon came to see the children’s abilities rather than their disability.
“You walk in and you see all these kids but, at the end of it, it doesn’t break your heart anymore because you see what they are doing, what they are capable of. And there is nothing they’re not capable of.”
The children do well thanks to the War Amps programs that provide the tools to help child amputees live life to the fullest.
“And once you see other children doing so well you don’t worry about your own child so much.”
Long said she’s also grateful to the War Amps “Matching Mothers” program. The program helped her a great deal, she said.
“They put you in contact with another family that has a child with a similar amputation. So, if you have questions or just need to talk to somebody, they are there to do that, too. That was really helpful, especially when Kimmie was younger and you didn’t know what to expect. It was nice to be able to call somebody and talk and then you meet them at the seminars.”
Kimmie is in kindergarten at St. Mark’s All Grade. She has not had to deal with bullying or teasing in the close-knit community.
“It didn’t matter when Kimmie started school. Everyone already knew her as “Maggie’s little sister,” Long said, referring to Kimmie’s nine-year-old sister.
“Maggie is protective of Kimmie and my brother has three kids. His oldest is very protective of Kimmie, too. He helps her in school.”
Kimmie is an enthusiastic child who needs little help with everyday activities.
“She sees what the other kids are doing and she finds her own way of doing it. When she was smaller it used to take her a little bit longer but now she does things at the same speed of children her own age.”
In looking towards the future, Long said, the time will come when her daughter may need a little help with such things as tying her shoes or putting up her hair.
The War Amps seminars are invaluable in this regard, she said.
“You have kids there who are infants and kids who are teenagers. They are all helping each other out and showing each other how to do those things.”
The War Amps funds Kimmie’s visits to the upper limb clinic in New Brunswick as well as the cost of her artificial limbs – thanks to the War Amps Key Tags Program.
About the War Amps
About the War Amps
The War Amps program was launched in 1946 so that returning war amputees could not only work for competitive wages, but also provide a service to Canadians that would generate funds for the War Amps programs.
The Key Tag Program employs amputees and people with disabilities and has returned more than 1.5 million sets of lost keys.
Each key tag has a confidentially coded number. Should the keys be lost, the finder can call the toll-free number on the back of the tag, or deposit them in any mailbox, and the keys will be returned to the owner by bonded courier.
“Thanks to the public’s support of the Key Tag Service, we are able to help young amputees like Kimmie live full and active lives,” Danita Chisholm, executive director of the CHAMP program said in a recent press release.
The War Amps doesn’t receive government grants and its programs are possible through public support of the Key Tag and Address Label Service.
Donations to the War Amps can be made online at waramps.ca or by calling 1 800 250-3030.