GIVE provides the power of play

By Tessa Harding

Brand Engagement Manager

10-year-old Rhianna is discovering the benefits of play, such as improved strength, coordination and confidence, thanks to a playset funded by Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.

Rhianna has Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental coordination disorder and dyspraxia, which affect her ability to walk, run, jump and throw. She also has significant visual perception issues, making it difficult for her to climb steps or ladders without help.

Rhianna’s support network, Leanne, said that Rhianna would get upset when she saw other children doing things she couldn’t do easily.

“Rhianna has delayed and inhibited gross motor skills, which makes it hard for her to do things other kids her age can do,” she said.

“She tries so hard to do the things she sees everyone else doing, but gets very frustrated when she doesn’t succeed and goes into severe meltdown mode.”

So late last year Leanne applied to Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program for a grant to purchase a playset that would allow Rhianna to practice at home. Her application was successful and a playset, including monkey bars, ropes, climbing apparatus, a fireman pole, netball hoop and swings, was installed at the family home.

“Last year Rhianna did not have the coordination, let alone the strength to be able to climb stairs or grasp the top of a monkey bar,” Leanne said.

“Now, just one month after receiving the playset she is able to climb the ladder, hold onto the frame and move across the monkey bars easily. She can even pull herself on top of the monkey bars and crawl across the top of them to the other side.”

Girl on climbing frame

Pictured: Rhianna

“Having the playset at home also means that she can practice her skills in a familiar environment, rather than at the park or play centre where she goes into sensory overload and can’t regulate herself.”

All the practice on the playset is also helping Rhianna work toward achieving her therapy goals, which include climbing stairs independently and accessing the community safely.

“More recently Rhianna has been walking up and downstairs with one foot per step as opposed to two feet per step with minimal frustration,” Leanne said.

“She still has a long way to go in terms of building her strength and coordination, but we are working on it daily with assistance from her Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist.”

Leanne said that the grant had been life-changing for Rhianna and was thankful to the donors who make the GIVE Program possible.

“I cannot tell you how much the GIVE grant has changed this little girl’s life,” she said.

“Without access to this kind of equipment Rhianna’s skills would be nowhere near where they are now – and her confidence grown so much. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program is made possible by generous donations from the Western Australian community. Therapy Focus customers, their families and the people in their support networks can apply to the GIVE Program for funding grants to purchase items that promote independence, participation and social inclusion of people living with disability.

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