This week marks National Amputee Awareness Week (4-11 Oct), an opportunity to celebrate the abilities of the 200,000 people in Australia living with a limb difference, including 2,500 children. To ensure the needs of children living with a limb loss and their carers are met, Limbs 4 Life has partnered with nib foundation on the national rollout of its Limbs 4 Kids program.
The nib foundation funded program has assisted thousands of families since it launched nationally in May 2015. As the first of its kind in Australia, the successful program facilitates connections between parents offering peer support as well as providing 'on demand' information and resources to increase knowledge about childhood limb difference in the wider community.
Limbs 4 Life CEO, Melissa Noonan, highlights the effectiveness of the program in offering psychosocial support to young people affected by a limb difference and their carers.
"Experiencing an amputation or being born with a limb difference is permanent and leads to a range of physical and emotional changes that are challenging for both the individual and their loved ones," said Ms Noonan.
"Limbs 4 Kids is as much about connecting young people with a limb difference as it is about forming a support community for their carers. We want to provide people with an opportunity to speak openly about how they are feeling, address any issues and concerns they have, and alleviate some of the distress they may be harnessing."
Limbs 4 Kids complements Limbs 4 Life's existing Peer Support Program, serviced by 154 trained volunteer amputees who act as mentors. Based on the same principles, it provides adult amputees with opportunity to meet someone who has successfully adapted to limb loss and learn how they regained their independence.
nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, said Limbs 4 Kids addresses a gap in much needed support and information for families who have a child with a limb difference.
"Living with a limb difference is something that no child, their family or caregivers should have to go through alone. The Limbs 4 Kids program prevents this isolation by connecting families with others who are going through or have been through a similar experience," said Ms Tribe.
"We are proud to have provided the financial support over five years that has enabled this valuable initiative to be established initially in Victoria and now nationally, ensuring families living in even the most rural parts of Australia can access quality information and peer connections," she added.
Whilst living with a limb loss is forever, National Amputee Awareness Week is a time for all Australians to show their support and recognition of those facing this challenge on a daily basis. For more information, visit www.limbs4kids.org.au.