'It's meant the world to us': Island family grateful for War Amps key tag program
2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the War Amps Key Tag Service
5-year-old old Mara Duncan of Stratford, P.E.I., a right foot amputee, got to be a ballerina this year, thanks to the War Amps Child Amputee Program (CHAMP).
"It's meant the world to us, and to Mara," said Noelle Duncan, Mara's mother.
"She tried ballet this year, after she got her first foot. Her foot helped her accomplish what she wanted to try."
Mara had a portion of her right foot amputated when she was 13-months-old, due to a congenital malformation called macrodactyly.
'It's just part of her life now'
Early this year, Mara got her first prosthesis, a new foot that helps her keep up with her big sister and the kids at school.
"I think it feels so natural to her, it's just part of her life now," said Duncan.
"It's almost like a child who didn't realize they needed glasses and they got glasses and it's like: oh, this is what it's like to see, this is what it's feels like to run as fast as I can and climb and do everything that she wants to do."
'You realize you're not alone'
2016 is a big year for the War Amps, as it marks the 70th anniversary of the key tag service.
The program started in 1946, as a way find employment for Second World War veterans. To date, more than 1.5 million sets of lost keys have been returned to their owners through the program.
Stephen Hann, regional representative for War Amps in P.E.I., said it's because of the key tag program that he, and children like Mara Duncan, have the support they need.
"Often times you're the only amputee in your community, it can be difficult, kind of thinking you're alone and you're the only person like this," said Hann.
"Then you get to go to a seminar, or get involved with the War Amps, and this whole new community opens up, and you realize that there are so many other kids exactly like you, and you realize you're not alone."
He said support from the War Amps comes in the form of new artificial limbs, recreational devices, and participation in annual seminars that bring amputees, and their families, together.
Islanders continue to support key tag program
Here on the Island, approximately 65 amputees are enrolled in the War Amps program. To Stephen Hann, it's not hard to see why support for the War Amps has endured through the years.
"You're supporting a child to be like every other child, allowing them to run, climb, play sports, dance, do what they want," said Hann. "You actually see what your donation is doing and who it is helping, especially in a small place like P.E.I."
Island supporters of the War Amps key tag program will start to get their address labels in the mail this week. Approximately 45,000 key tags are mailed in P.E.I. every year.
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | A look inside the gates of the former Strait Crossing fabrication yard
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | 'You could literally sit home in your underwear at 2 a.m. and cast your ballot'