Learning to walk up stairs is something every toddler has to master but it’s been a little tougher for Emma Banks, 3, to conquer than it is for most.
Emma has cerebral palsy and mobility issues resulting from a stroke she suffered before she was born, which left her with a large fluid-filled cyst where part of her brain was supposed to be.
Although Emma passed her health checks in hospital after birth, when she was nine months old her mum Dee Banks noticed she preferred using her left hand, and her right hand and arm had dropped. She didn’t grasp or reach with her right, didn’t lift her knees and showed no interest in crawling.
Emma took her first steps about six months ago and now, having found her feet, has also started dance classes.
But learning to climb and descend stairs has been a challenge.
To help her daughter, Ms Banks advertised on a local Facebook page for a tradesman to help build a set of stairs that Emma could do therapy with at home.
She was flooded with offers and two generous locals sourced materials and built the stairs to measurements provided by Emma’s therapists – and as an added bonus they came in her favourite colour, pink.
“These two men made the stairs and delivered them to us and because of that generosity she is doing really well walking up stairs, not walking down though, and she’s definitely thriving because of their generosity.”
It was a priority for Ms Banks for Emma to be able to climb stairs to make it easier when she goes to school, and a bonus has been that Emma can now climb stairs at the playground.
May is National Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month and Ms Banks last week received a national award for establishing the Little Stroke Warriors support group, which now supports about 180 families.
“I had no idea children could have a stroke, certainly not babies who haven’t been born yet,” Ms Banks said about Emma’s diagnosis.
“When Emma was diagnosed there was no support, so we developed that and started meeting with the Royal Children’s Hospital and Stroke Foundation regarding lack of resources available to kids and families,” she said.
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“We started a Facebook page because it’s free and the idea behind it was anyone could get support at any time of the day or night from wherever they were.
“I have had 2 ½ years experience in the stroke rehab recovery world and so I had a fair bit of experience in what resources people need when they are diagnosed … and I have worked in program facilitation in the past so I could transfer those skills to help families.”