© 2013 Lions Clubs New Zealand
Let us introduce you to the newly formed Lions Clubs New Zealand Child Mobility Foundation and outline the history of this project in New Zealand.
David Hart, a trained medical engineer working in the United Kingdom, developed the Hart Walker in the 1980s. It has the potential to help thousands of children with a disability to walk. David’s motto is: “May every child walk with pride, for it is their right.”
Although the Hart Walker looks simple, it has up to 1,000 working components. It combines a bracing system used to promote proper body alignment with a walking base. Elastic cords are added to achieve an alternating walking pattern and can be adjusted to address unbalanced muscle abilities. The walker has many adjustments in the bracing system as well as in the walking base, enabling it to “grow” with the child. The base has four wheels to start but can be changed to a two-wheeled base to no base at all as balance and function improve.
The Hart Walker provides hands-free mobility and allows children the opportunity to experience walking, often for the first time in their lives.
Health benefits can include improved circulation, respiration, digestive system, muscle control and improved balance and co-ordination.
Social benefits include a positive personality change, increased self esteem, better interaction with others and better social communication.
Once children is used to the walker, they can become very manoeuvrable.
The difference a Hart Walker makes in the life of a child with cerebral palsy can hardly be imagined. They are transformed from dependent to independent, in a flash; from a life spent mainly indoors to something more closely resembling a “normal” childhood.
In 1998/99 grandparents of a child with cerebral palsy, who happened to be members of the Titahi Bay Lions Club, were told of this invention and took their little boy to Sydney to be fitted. It was highly successful.
In 2000 a remit was passed at the Lions' annual convention held in Wellington which created the Lions Hart Walker national project. In 2010 the Executive Management Committee reviewed the project and the Child Mobility Foundation was formed.
The Hart Walker costs NZ$9,850 and attracts no government funding in New Zealand and therefore relies on the generosity of us all. The cost includes shipment, equipment, two clinics and the first pair of boots. Families are invoiced for costs after that and clinic fees are NZ$75 a visit. The cost of boots and repairs are additional. Lions Clubs to date have rallied behind the Hart Walkers being donated in New Zealand.
We have a proud history with the Hart Walker project. Over 150 children have been fitted with a walker since the project began and we are currently working with 41. Children with disabilities need Lions to continue to help and get assistance from the wider community. Their families are very grateful for the extra support, and for people involved it is truly rewarding.
We wish to offer other mobility devices for children with disabilities and will be looking at what is available and at what cost.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
At this stage, we are solely reliant on donations from Lions Clubs and would welcome donations from the general public, commercial enterprises and trusts.
Details of how to make donations are in our brochure. Click here to download.
Donations can be banked into Westpac Bank Account No. 03-0389-0760525-00. Email details of your donation to firstname.lastname@example.org
OLD AERIALS FOR YOUTH
We have devised a project that we trust you will want to be involved with. Click here for the details.
READ ABOUT SOME OF THE CHILDREN