Catholic News writer, Simone Delochan interviewed the Aidaneed Foundation who believe all persons deserve the best quality of life, opportunities for engagement and overall participation in daily life.
Q. What exactly is the Aidaneed Foundation? When was it started?
The Aidaneed Foundation is a non-profit organisation with the goal to provide new wheelchairs and mobility aids to underprivileged citizens of all ages with a range of disabilities. The Foundation hopes to change the lives of persons living with disabilities, by providing the right customisable aids to facilitate proper positioning and support mobility, so they can function as independently as possible.
Aidaneed was launched in 2019 and merged with Theraplay Pediatrics Ltd, our partner company. Theraplay Pediatrics is an outpatient pediatric clinic providing Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Mental Health Counselling to children of all ages.
Q. By whom was it started and why?
Aidaneed was started by Jeanne Sabga and includes a committee of eight dedicated women all with different professional backgrounds sharing the same passion. Jeanne has been working as an Occupational Therapist for just over eight years. She began working with AA Laquis soon after graduating, as their therapist, providing customised seating and wheeled mobility services. These personalised assessments through AA Laquis included specific positioning equipment, mobility devices and medical equipment, all targeted to help the quality of life for persons living with mobility issues.
Overtime, Jeanne learnt of the financial struggles many families have faced in order to purchase these mobility aids for their children or family members. It will take most families many months to over a year until they are able to purchase a wheelchair for their loved ones, who unfortunately would have been without any mobility supports during this time. Therefore, without proper seating or positioning more long-term damage can be done such as increase of deformities/contractures in joints, decrease in quality of life and one’s overall independence. In some cases, when families are finally able to get the adequate funds, the entire assessment process must start from the beginning with all new measurements, this therefore can delay the ordering and receiving process of getting their device.
Each mobility aid is a big investment, but it is able to meet a child’s or persons present and future needs. An example is a child with Cerebral Palsy who requires a customisable wheelchair with proper supports such as a specialized backrest for their posture, a specific headrest to support limited neck and head control or a specialty leg rest to support their lower body positioning. A chair such as this can range in price between TT$30,000-$45,000.
The idea for Aidaneed was born out of a desire to close this ‘waiting gap’ one mobility aid at a time. All persons deserve the best quality of life, opportunities for engagement and overall participation in daily life.
Q. Can you give an outline of your efforts thus far and how many people you have impacted?
Since launching in 2019, we have successfully handed over three mobility devices to three amazing and appreciative families. We have purchased a specialised Pediatric Stroller, a Gait Trainer/Walker and a Pediatric Activity Chair, all with a combined value of over $100,000. We also aim to raise awareness of the many different kinds of devices available and the positive impact ownership of these devices has on the quality of recipients’ lives. To give you an idea of our Foundation’s mission and how it translates to achieving our goal of levelling the playing field for everyone, a simple device like the Gait Trainer was able to allow our recipient Jesse a chance to be able to go onto the field and play soccer with his peers.
Q. What was your most recent effort?
Our most recent effort was to a sweet six-year-old girl Peyton, who has multiple disabilities. Peyton was gifted the Rifton Activity Chair which is perfect for her home environment. It is an adaptive chair that provides customised seating for Peyton as she has been in an outgrown highchair for too long, not supporting her growing body and changing needs. She is usually at home with both parents and it is becoming more and more difficult supporting her without the right seating options. One of our favourite features of this chair is the ‘hi/lo base’—its ability to raise her seat up, this helps with her transfers and better access to activities such as washing hands, with more support at the sink. An activity table is also included with this chair, which allows Peyton to engage in more sensory activities where she can use her hands in a more supportive position.
Q. How do you find the people that you assist? Are they recommended to you?
Some of our Aidaneed recipients are found through assessments at AA Laquis, or through work at the pediatric clinic, some through word of mouth, our social media pages and others, being in the right place at the right time.
Q. How are you funded?
To date all of our efforts have been funded through our fundraisers and generous donations. In the past our fundraisers included a Sip N Paint evening and a bake sale at a Christmas Bazaar. We have many more fundraising events and exciting opportunities planned that we hope to execute in the coming year.
Q. How can the foundation be contacted for assistance?
For more information on how to contact us please call 221-3866 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations can be made through RBC Account #110000004037192 as well as through cheques made payable to The Aidaneed Foundation.