Rasonté was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease just past her first birthday. Before her first appointment at the Sickle Cell Clinic, she fell sick and eventually had to have bilateral below knee amputation and later, bilateral below elbow amputation.
In 2005, after a fundraiser, she was fitted with new below knee prosthesis and her first myoelectric below elbow prosthesis at a clinic in Houston, Texas, USA. Like most children, Rasonté has her growth spurts. This means that prosthetics bought and fitted have to be changed every two years or so. This is very expensive as just one prosthetic can cost over US$10,000.
Variety the Children’s Charity of Barbados and Beacon Insurance, have come together to bring cheer to 250 children this Christmas.
Donnah Russell, Executive Director of Variety the Children’s Charity of Barbados, noted that the charity’s annual Christmas party was hosted by Beacon Insurance this year. She thanked Beacon for their generous support at a time when it was most needed and welcomed them on board the Variety family.
The party is a part of Variety’s Future Kids programming which seeks to give children the gift of social experiences and play. For many of them watching the feature film “Peanuts” compliments Olympus Theatres, it was the first time at the movies.
During the movie the children were treated to popcorn drinks and snacks, including the Christmas traditional ham cutter. The day’s activities also included Disco dancing, and a visit from Santa, who handed out treats. As the children left the cinema they were presented with a loot bag compliments Beacon Insurance.
Beacon General Manager, Mr. Brian Hennis, expressed his company’s policy on giving back and said “Beacon was pleased to partner with Variety the Children’s Charity in bringing joy to children during the Christmas season. Variety works tirelessly to ensure that children can enjoy the essence of the holiday season and we are happy to assist, as part of our “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” corporate social responsibility programme.”
Each child at the party also received a gift sponsored by Beacon and a toy donated by the Robinson Smiles Foundation of Washington, USA.
Children in Barbados who face mobility and other physical challenges are provided with therapy by the A C Graeme Development Centre, a government funded institution. On a monthly basis, Variety Tent 73 supplements this care by paying salaries for one or more physiotherapists to work with these special children.
One such therapist is Melissa Walcott-Pusey, whose services on the island we could not possibly adequately compensate. Justina, a ten year old girl diagnosed with Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, is one of Melissa’s patients.
In January 2013, as a result of Melissa’s caring and thorough services, Variety provided Justina with a hospital bed and air mattress so that she could adjust her head and feet and her mother could easily change her position to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers and acid reflux. The bed’s height from the ground can adjust, making it easier for Mum to provide for Justina’s toileting needs and daily passive range of movements to her limbs without injuring her back.
Justina will never be able to independently care for herself and therefore it is imperative that her mother remains as healthy as possible in order to facilitate long term care for her.
In 2013, Tent 73 also provided Melissa and another therapist with training to ensure that they stay relevant in their fields of work. During the year Justina is transported by Sunshine Coach to our Summer Movie Mornings and to our Gold Heart and Christmas parties, ensuring that she is provided not only her physical needs but also with social events she can enjoy.
Melissa Walcott Pusey graduated from the school of physiotherapy in Jamaica in 1996 and worked in Jamaica until 2004 where she became Head of Physiotherapy for the Mandeville Regional Hospital. Previously she spent two years working in the Bustamante Children Hospital.
Melissa returned to Barbados and started her own business Total Therapy Inc which provides physiotherapy services to patients at home and in an office environment. However she missed treating children and when Variety Barbados provided her with the opportunity to work at the Children’s Development Centre (now A C Graham Development Centre) arose she jumped at it. Since then she has enjoyed caring for these kids and their families as they face challenges specific to their demographic.
Melissa is always available to Variety Barbados when we officially or unofficially need her expert opinion in purchasing mobility devices for children who in need. She willingly offers advice as a professional and as a care giver who loves children. In addition, Melissa attends many of the events we provide for the children just to make sure they are comfortable and enjoying themselves. Melissa is a priceless addition to the Variety team.
Over the years, we have seen many physically and mentally challenged children experience the very positive and helpful effects of regular physiotherapy sessions. Sometimes, the sessions help the children deal with pain and discomfort; or they can help the children grow and develop better, improving their motor skills and mobility.
The Barbados government does its best to fund the necessary physiotherapy sessions at the A C Graham Development Centre, but government budgets are very limited and the demand from our children greatly exceeds what the government’s programme can afford.
This is where Variety steps in to make a difference.
Every month we provide funds to increase the number of physiotherapy sessions available to children with challenges. In an average month, we are able to top up governments programme by about 30 hours of physiotherapy sessions. This still does not meet the needs of all the children, but it is a big step in the right direction.
This is one of the many programmes offered by Variety, the Children’s Charity. All of them are designed to help the children of Barbados, particularly those who are poor or challenged mentally, physically or economically.
You can help us for as little as $50 per year. That is all it costs to become a member of Variety Barbados. Just click on the Membership Form to sign up.
Please help us help the children in need.
Office Administrator/Volunteer Manager
P.S. Your donation can make a big difference in the life of a child. It is simple to join, You can do it now – it takes only one minute. Donate Today