By Bobinec, Greg on July 17, 2019.
A Lethbridge resident has been helping children play safe and spot the danger along parade routes since she was seven.
Shelby Smith, now 18, is a member of The War Amps Child Amputee Program (CHAMP) and is has been passing on the PLAYSAFE message to children all over.
Smith was born a right hand amputee and has been a part of The War Amps since before she was born, when the doctors found in an ultrasound that she would be born without a right hand.
The CHAMP program helped her and her family work through all of the challenges they faced to make her a successful kid, and since working through the program, Smith has become an ambassador for educating and informing children about amputees and playing safe.
“A PLAYSAFE ambassador means that we educate kids on how to play safe and to be aware of their surroundings, and with today’s technologies there are so many things that could go wrong and safety is not where it should be, especially with young kids who are not educated on it,” says Smith. “I have been in multiple parades, singing and chanting different things, I am a junior counsellor at seminars, I used to do presentations on different prosthetics when I was in Grade 6 and educated people on me.”
The War Amps programs helped her gain the confidence to share her story and educate the community about amputees and to spread awareness for children playing safe. Through her message, she says she wants to help amputee children have the confidence in themselves to do whatever they want, as well as to educate able-bodied children about how amputees are just like them and can do whatever they set their minds to.
“I want to help and educate people. The only thing that I get out of it is the joy of knowing that I am helping and making a difference,” says Smith. “It is an amazing thing to be a part of and to think that I was invited to help other kids and help them realize what is around them is a great feeling.”
The War Amps is an organization that has helped amputees since 1918 and provides a variety of services including education, advocacy and financial assistance to amputees for their artificial limbs. Prosthetic limbs are expensive and tend to need consistent repair through daily use.
Smith says The War Amps have become a family to her and she is thankful they helped her receive prosthetics when her insurance wouldn’t cover it.
“The War Amps program is so amazing, they have helped me so much. The community they have built for amputee kids is just phenomenal, I have a second family and it is them,” says Smith. “The War Amps support funding for prosthetics and technologies, and some people don’t have the insurance to pay for that and it is quite fortunate that The War Amps program has been there for them.”
Smith hopes to continue inspiring young children in and around the community with her amazing story, and The War Amps message of PLAYSAFE.
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