ANYTIME Emma exceeds expectations for things doctors said not to expect - like talking or walking, Dee Banks says this fuels hope for what could be possible.
To share their family story and other families' experiences with childhood stroke is important to Ms Banks who wants to offer hope and inspiration to parents when their child is diagnosed.
For Ballarat's Dee and Tawhai Banks, "navigating the system was like walking in a foreign country, not knowing the language".
Emma Banks, now five, had a stroke before she was born. Ms Banks had a seemingly normal pregnancy and Emma passed her health checks in hospital. By the time Emma was nine months old, Ms Banks noticed she was preferring one side of her body and showed no interest in crawling.
Emma's stroke diagnosis was a shock and Ms Banks felt the system responded differently, with less detail or information, than for an adult stroke survivor.
Time in stroke is critical and the Banks' had lost nine months of it.
Ms Banks and her Little Stroke Warriors co-founder Kylie Facer, based in New South Wales, started a social media support group so no family feel so alone. They have amassed a network of more the 600 families.
Together they are a finalist for the Stroke Foundation's prestigious president's award. It is an honour Ms Banks said that was more about an achievement for their community in raising awareness and a voice.
Quite often we have mums referred to us when their kids are in intensive care. I'm honoured I can be a lifeline in that period for them.Dee Banks
"I rely on the group for support, even though I co-founded it, every time I've needed someone with a lens to what I am feeling and to reassure me," Ms Banks said. "A lot of the time, people are not given the right infomation or people don't know how to advocate for their child. We can give strategies to go that, which is important.
"Quite often we have mums referred to us when their kids are in intensive care. I'm honoured I can be a lifeline in that period for them."
Two years on from when The Courier last met Emma Banks - she was learning to walk up a set of stairs created by Ballarat tradies - and much has changed.
Ms Banks and Ms Facer are working with the Stroke Foundation on the final draft My Family's Stroke Journey, a guide with practical advice and stories to help families on their child's diagnosis. Stories aim to bring hope.
Royal Children's Hospital has a stroke team, led by neurologist Mark Mackay, but Ms Banks said is was vital to educate and raise community awareness about the program to better achieve equality in stroke care.
Children, like adults, display the warning signs for stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to get help. Ms Banks said too often, family's found their child misdiagnosed and valuable response time was lost.
Emma is now at kindergarten and while she does have language delays, she maintains a strong allied health team helping her recovery and rehabilitation. She continues her lessons at Kerry Moore School of Ballet with modifications so she can be included and keep up with her peers.
"When you've looked at Emma's MRI and the damage to her brain, it's incredible the obstacles she's overcome," Ms Banks said. "Emma's a happy kid and loves life. She's full of zest and that's what matters most."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.