June 2020 Update: Taking Valuable Lessons from Therapy into his Everyday Activities!
"Carter always wanted to walk again,” shares Carter's mom, Rebecca. “Once he began with KidsAbility to overcome his paralysis from a severe car accident, it took over a year for him to transition from a wheelchair to a walker and then to walking on his own. But every step of the way his therapy team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, and social work staff helped him reach his goals. They never let him give up, even when he wanted to.”
Rebecca credits Carter’s relationship with his therapy team as the greatest gift KidsAbility has given him. She speaks passionately about the encouragement, support and recognition Carter received at every visit. When Carter’s needs transitioned from physical support to emotional support, he was given the safety and freedom to speak about the anger he felt from losing his mobility and the work it was taking to regain it over time. Each of his therapists have become like family to him – they understand his needs and help him manage his behaviour.
Now 11, Carter continues to feel accomplished through programs offered at KidsAbility. He completed the drumming program at KidsAbility Cambridge last year to help on social skills as well as improve on his fine and gross motor skills. He took part in the Youth Cooking Classes at KidsAbility Waterloo and now takes pride in making his family a tasty dish of Lemon Kale Linguini. Last summer, he re-learned to ride a two-wheeler through the iCanBike program at KidsAbility which allows him now to independently ride his bike with friends during COVID-19 while still physical distancing.
Expanding on what he has learned, and is still learning through KidsAbility, Carter has started equine therapy at a local horse farm. The benefits are two-fold. Riding horses integrates physiotherapy to increase movement in his right side which is 70 percent restored, while the close relationship of rider and horse helps Carter emotionally.
Feeling compelled to give back in ways they could, Carter, Rebecca and sister, Charlie, have been an Ambassador family for KidsAbility since September 2019. The Ambassador role has helped boost Carter’s confidence while he explores his capabilities.
“I like to give speeches and share my story about how the therapists at KidsAbility helped me,” Carter shares. “I spoke at an event with my mom in October and when I finished my speech, people came and told me I did a great job. That felt pretty good!”
And, according to Carter, he’s experiencing lots of fun as a champion for kids with disabilities.
“I decorated cookies for Tim Horton’s Smile Cookie Day – that was one of my favourite experiences so far because my family joined me!” shares Carter. “The cookies we decorated that day were going to be served the next day to customers. Even though they offered us a free cookie, I wanted to make sure all the money would go to KidsAbility.”
When Carter was asked if there are other opportunities he’s had as a KidsAbility Ambassador, he was quick to share his adventures at Colonial Cookies, a staunch supporter of KidsAbility for close to a decade.
“I packaged my own box of cookies and I got to bring it home, it was cool,” admits Carter. “They also gave me a whole case of cookies, just for helping! There was enough to share with my whole class at my school’s Terry Fox Run.”
Carter understands just how much of a difference KidsAbility had made in his life. He likes to help others through their journey too. This past winter, he and mom Rebecca helped out at Oh Christmas Free, an annual holiday event hosted by KidsAbility for children and their siblings to engage in activities, games, crafts and a chance to meet Santa all while parents are afforded a few free hours of holiday shopping time at Conestoga Mall, a corporate sponsor of the event.
There are still goals ahead for Carter, like improving the finer skills in his fingers to tie shoelaces and becoming an even better drummer through his weekly music lessons with his own set of drums.
Rebecca shares one last thought. “Carter would not be where he is today if it hadn’t been for KidsAbility. The connection with everyone – the therapists, the staff, the supporters and donors who help to make it all happen! It’s because KidsAbility has set him up for success that Carter can prove to himself and others he is capable of anything!”
Read about Carter's full journey with KidsAbility below.
KidsAbility Ambassador 2019 - 2020
The phone rang waking me just after midnight.
My son Carter, age eight at the time, had been in a serious car accident. Any parent’s worst nightmare.
Carter’s injuries were severe requiring surgery to repair his broken neck.
After nine hours in surgery, Carter remained in a coma for the next 24 hours. When he awoke, there were a lot of tears and confusion. They let me climb in the bed and console him and that was when we first realized he was unable to move. He couldn’t feel me holding his hand, or his Grandma rubbing his foot.
The doctor told us the damage was so severe to his nerves and spinal cord and that Carter would remain quadriplegic. I needed some time to process that my son would never be able to walk or use his arms again. He could only move his eyes and his mouth. But, after weeks of intensive therapy in hospital he felt a flicker in his foot that gave us all hope.
After several months of more intensive treatment to help move his arms and legs, Carter was determined not to go home in a wheelchair. He worked hard to build up his strength and regain control of his body. In only five months, Carter was discharged with only a walker and a referral to KidsAbility.
When you go to KidsAbility, you get a whole team of people. I had no idea about all of the support provided. Having all of these services in one place makes it so much easier for families. You are not alone.
We met with a Social Worker, Recreational Therapist, Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist. We worked on setting up our goals and a schedule. Carter had a long road ahead of him but the patience, understanding and emotional support from our amazing team at KidsAbility is what got us through this critical time.
With KidsAbility therapy, Carter continued to gain strength and more mobility in his arms and legs. His favourite therapy sessions involved the zip line swing chair at the Cambridge site playground.
KidsAbility also helped with the trauma of the accident that comes with a wide range of emotions. The social work team at KidsAbility supported me as I navigated the many government forms required for his care and to this day, continues to help Carter.
Carter’s therapists provide him with the constant changing stimulation he needed, as well as the emotional support he required some days all while pushing his boundaries and helping him get stronger every day.
But we wouldn’t have KidsAbility if it were not for community and financial support from donors. This support helps children like Carter who successfully graduated last December from the Spinal Cord Injury program offered by KidsAbility.
Carter is now 10, attending school, almost full-time, with friends and without the use of a walker! He is walking independently, runs and plays with his friends and has even been able to re-learn riding a bike through the iCan Bike program! Carter has started to learn to play the drums and wants to pass the swim test so he can go down the waterslide at his local pool—something that his KidsAbility’s Recreation Therapist is helping him to achieve.
Carter has a smile that lights up any room. He has a bright future ahead thanks to you and KidsAbility. Our family is truly grateful.
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