14 December 2008

Brave girl's bid to be able to walk

Amber Atkins, who has cerebral palsy, at the Footsteps centre where she has been getting intensive physiotherapy.

A wheelchair bound six-year-old girl with cerebral palsy has been making great progress in her bid to walk for the first time - thanks to the help of kind-hearted fundraisers.

Amber Atkins, from Mile Cross, recently had her third visit to the Footsteps physiotherapy centre in Oxford, which was made possible thanks to fundraisers in Norwich.

The centre uses advanced techniques to help children and adults build up their muscles and enable them to stand and walk on their own.

Determined for Amber to have the best resources to help her gain independent mobility, her parents Lyn and Jason looked into therapy in Poland, but it was financially impossible.

The Atkins then found out about Footsteps through their consultant and the family, which includes nine-month-old Millie, have recently come back from their third three-week stay at the centre.

Since starting Footsteps therapy, the family say the biggest difference in Amber has been how keen she is to do things for herself.

Mrs Atkins, 36, said: “After coming to our first session at Footsteps, Amber was sitting on the sofa, and all of a sudden we looked around and she had got herself off the sofa and onto the floor. This is something she would never have attempted before.”

Amber cannot as yet walk independently, but she gets around by 'combat' crawling. After trying a walking frame at Footsteps, Mrs Atkins got her one to use at home and now using her walker is all Amber wants to do.

Mrs Atkins added: “In addition to the therapy we get at Footsteps, the physiotherapists always give us helpful hints for things we can do at home with Amber. I can't praise Footsteps highly enough. Everyone comments on how well Amber is progressing, and we can't wait to go back.”

The family raised £5,000, enough for two visits to the centre, through a charity concert at The Talk in May and then were given an additional £3,000 by Terry Wickham, who runs the Evening News's Golden Years events at the UEA. They have already paid for another stay at the centre in February and plan to start fundraising again in the New Year.

Mrs Atkins said: “People have been so generous, we couldn't have done this without all their help and we can't thank them enough.”

The centre believes children with neurological disorders are not getting the physiotherapy they need on the NHS and last month it launched its own charity - the Footsteps Foundation - to raise £500,000 to help pay for families to visit the centre.

More information is available at www.footstepsfoundation.com

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