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Inspired to help Vietnamese children with cerebral palsy leave the shadows
Ryan White, CTV Calgary
Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014 1:36PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, June 13, 2014 2:49PM MDT
Having a child with cerebral palsy can drastically change the lives of the parents, but for Laverne Bissky and her husband David Dziadyk, their active lifestyle would not slowdown following the birth of their daughter Kasenya.
After absorbing the devastation of their daughter’s diagnosis, the couple decided to introduce her and her brother to their love of travel, including a trip to Southeast Asia. Their first visit to Vietnam, in 2008, was an eye opener for the family.
“We knew that children like Kasenya who live in those countries would not probably have wheelchairs or all of the equipment or even the programming that Kasenya has access to,” explains Laverne. “But, we didn't understand what the attitude toward those children would be.”
The family would receive long stares from the locals who were shocked to encounter a couple pushing their daughter in her wheelchair. The family soon learned children with cerebral palsy were kept out of sight in Vietnam.
David Dziadyk says after his family’s first trip to Vietnam, Laverne returned home determined to help families of children with cerebral palsy.
“She decided to set up a foundation called ‘No Ordinary Journey Foundation’ to work with kids with Cerebral Palsy, particularly in Vietnam,” said David. “We had created a few connections there.”
Laverne says the recipients of her foundation’s services often seek help out of desperation, but the desperation quickly subsides and is replaced with hope.
“Just having the access to some of our professionals and having the opportunity to learn something that they could do for their child,” said Laverne.
Laurie Weldon, a therapist, accompanied Laverne on her most recent trip to Vietnam. Laurie witnessed the positive impact the ‘No Ordinary Journey Foundation’ is providing in the lives of cerebral palsy patients and their families.
“They'd be stuck where they were before Laverne started over there, with very little in the way of any equipment, any support,” said Laurie. “(They would be) in their homes, lying in a bed.”
Laurie's husband Andy handled the business aspects of the trip. He was touched by how much it meant for the parents to have someone to talk to and empathize with the challenges they faced.
“I could see how difficult it was, the tears, and I think it was the first time that the parents had an opportunity to tell their story,” said Andy.
For all she does to help families dealing with cerebral palsy, both here at home and half a world away, Laverne Bissky is this week’s Inspiring Albertan.