Written by ALMT Trustee Alex de Winton.
‘(We) were lucky enough to visit Footsteps Foundation in Oxford this week. During the project visit we saw something really very special. The Footsteps Centre specializes in the intensive rehabilitation of children and young adults with cerebral palsy, genetic disorders, epilepsy, neurological, neuromotor and undiagnosed conditions.
Footsteps is one of our first co-funding projects…and (the Trust) is supporting them with a grant for physiotherapy totalling £23,000 over three years (currently year 1).
The therapy is carried out in a series of fully equipped physio rooms. Each child works one to one with their physio doing a range of specialist exercises designed to enable them to reach their individual goals. For some children the goal will be to walk independently, whilst for others it may be to be able to put on a pair of socks or to shuffle themselves to the edge of their chair. We saw several children during the morning all fully engaged with their physios. The physios are brilliant with the kids. One mother of a 3 year old explained that they come all the way from Devon and stay in a B&B for three weeks of intensive therapy several times a year. She told us about the huge impact the programme was having on her child, she seemed excited for his future.
We met another mother who comes down from Derbyshire with her 13 year old who has severe cerebral palsy. We asked her how she had found Footsteps and she explained that, before finding the centre, she felt her son wasn’t getting support “I just had to find something for him”. She googled and came up with the Footsteps Centre and said that she now has some hope for her boy who is making great progress – she hopes that he will be able to gain some strength and be able to shuffle in his chair which will greatly help her to go on caring for him and to enjoy more independence. So what seems like a small step is massively important and just wouldn’t happen without Footsteps.
We saw a little boy having some physio combined with music therapy. The centre has found this really helps the children as the therapy is quite intense so it adds a bit of variety and stimulation in a different way during the sessions. At 12.30 the sessions stopped for lunch and that’s when we saw something really special (as if we hadn’t already). This same little boy was carried back to his grandfather for lunch break and before his grandfather could take him into his arms, to the surprise of everyone, he took his first ever steps. It was an extremely profound moment.
Some families can afford to pay for treatment, but for those that can’t, the charity will fund up to 80 per cent of the treatment costs and in exceptional cases they will try to do more. This doesn’t include travel/accommodation. Families often fundraise individually to raise funds or pull in support from their wider families. Footsteps try not to turn anyone away and is aware of the need to include harder to reach families.
So delighted we are supporting Footsteps, giving real hope for a better future for these children and their families.’