Help­ing world’s poor­est liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ROSE CAW­LEY

Paddy Walsh can do all the things she loves.

She can run around with her friends, play netball and swim – all thanks to med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion.

Paddy, 10, was born with one leg no­tice­ably shorter than the other. It’s called fibu­lar hemimelia, which is par­tial or to­tal ab­sence of the thin­ner of the two long bones in the lower leg.

Her par­ents faced a tough choice, be­tween a leg length­en­ing pro­ce­dure or par­tial am­pu­ta­tion of the leg and/or foot.

‘‘The pro­ce­dure for length­en­ing the leg was hor­rific and Paddy would have had to have it done three times,’’ her mother Lizzie Walsh says.

‘‘We felt it would be too trau­matic so de­cided on am­pu­ta­tion and a pros­thetic. We’ve never re­gret­ted the decision.’’

This year the bub­bly young­ster was the face of cbm New Zealand, a Christian or­gan­i­sa­tion that fo­cuses on im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life for the world’s poor­est peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties.

Walsh says it was some­thing the fam­ily con­nected strongly with be­cause of the piv­otal role New Zealand’s med­i­cal sys­tem has played in mak­ing Paddy’s life as nor­mal as it could pos­si­bly be.

‘‘Paddy gets a new pros­thetic ev­ery year. I just have to ring up the limb cen­tre and then we see a doc­tor,’’ she says.

‘‘There are kids out there that don’t have what we have and can’t live like Paddy.’’

She says her daugh­ter in­spi­ra­tion.

‘‘Paddy has nor­malised it – that is why she has a colour­ful pros­thetic be­cause we don’t want to try and hide that.

‘‘She just gets on with it and does ev­ery­thing.’’

Paddy says learn­ing about Laxmi, a Nepalese girl who has a sim­i­lar dis­abil­ity, gave her a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for her pros­thetic leg.

‘‘I felt re­ally sad for her,’’ Paddy says. ‘‘Be­cause of her leg she had been crawl­ing to school.’’

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The Mt Eden young­ster says know­ing that Laxmi has now re­ceived a pros­thetic means the world to her.

‘‘No­body should through that.’’

Na­tional di­rec­tor of cbm Dar­ren Ward says with Paddy’s help they have raised enough to help nearly 60 chil­dren in the poor­est coun­tries liv­ing with the dou­ble dis­ad­van­tage of poverty and dis­abil­ity.

‘‘She is a re­mark­able per­son, not just for what she achieves through sport and mu­sic, but also be­cause of her will­ing­ness to pub­licly chal­lenge Ki­wis to help peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who live in the poor­est coun­tries of the world.’’

Paddy was thanked for her ef­forts at a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion at Mt Eden Nor­mal Pri­mary School on De­cem­ber 5.

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Photo: ROSE CAW­LEY

In­spi­ra­tional girl: This year Paddy Walsh, 10, has been the face of cbm, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that helps the world’s poor­est peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties.

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