An early intervention program in Queensland is helping children with a disability get the best start at life possible.
Horizon Foundation’s Baby Bridges program was founded out of an unfulfilled need to help parents care for a young child from birth to five-years-old with a disability and has spread to 14 sites statewide.
This week the program together with Cleveland parents raised $1500 to purchase mobility equipment, which is not covered by government funding.
Among the cakes, slices and petit fours served on the day were many mothers like Michelle Schroder caring for the needs of their child with a disability.
Michelle said the program provided support to help her daughter Sophia (pictured) with Mosaic Down Syndrome and for her to build vital networks of support during a difficult time with her child at eight months needing open heart surgery.
“Sophia had two holes in her heart and valve effects and was airlifted to surgery,” she said.
“The additional support from the program helped me get through it a little easier.
“It is very important to have a project like this in the local community because it keeps you positive about everything going on.”
Michelle is now enrolled in her second block of the program at Alexandra Hills and has seen enormous growth in her daughter as a result of the Baby Bridges program.
“Sophia is a shy girl and since we’ve been going there she’s had more social interaction and has come out of her shell, she said.
“She’s come forward in leaps and bounds particularly after her surgery.
“I love how they always have a physiotherapist, speech therapist or experts each fortnight to talk to us and address things we didn’t know what to do about or give referrals for further help.”
Baby Bridges program has provided advice, training and developmental clinics for hundreds of families and has been so successful it received $960,000 funding from Queensland Government’s Department of Communities.
At the launch of the Baby Bridges Townsville site the Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services Tracy Davis said “strong and targeted early intervention greatly improved the quality of life for children with a disability and helped strengthen and support their families.”
“One of the benefits of the Baby Bridges program is it recognises the need for a two-pronged approach to support – one for children and one for parents and carers,” she said.
Horizon Foundation’s State Coordinator Baby Bridges Program Geraldine McKinnon urged people in the community to enroll in the program.
“Baby Bridges is essential to families throughout Queensland providing incredible assistance without the extra financial cost,” she said.
“Early intervention is pivotal to enhance a child’s social and emotional development.
“While carers receive respite the children benefit from specialised play activities with input from qualified therapists.
People interested in getting involved in the program should telephone 1800 843 008 or visit www.babybridges.org