richer for Lauren
LEARNING WITH MOM:
(THE DAILY GLEANER/ DIANE DOIRON
Crompton listens to her mom, Susan Crompton,
while they do a little homework at the Kiwanis
Lauren Crompton isn't an
average seven year-old girl.
She loves to play
with her friends, she has beautiful hair full of
ringlets, her favourite movie of the moment is The
Princess Diaries. But don't underestimate her. She has
to struggle every day with the limitations that cerebral
palsy places on her life.
Lauren works hard in
school -- Grade 2 at Florenceville Elementary School --
she can communicate using her alpha talker or a simple
system of pointing either to the right or the left, and
she is a bit picky when it comes to films, choosing
Richard Gere and Harrison Ford first.
with all the barriers she breaks down every day, Lauren
gets frustrated when she can't be involved simply
because of her disability.
Lauren has recently beaten is being able to enjoy the
simple wonder of a snowy afternoon in the schoolyard,
thanks to the volunteers at the Fredericton chapter of
the Tetra Society.
When Lauren's family couldn't
find a sled outfitted for Lauren, they turned to the
Tetra Society, a volunteer organization that pairs
engineers with people who have special needs.
Susan Crompton, Lauren's mom, said their family
learned about the Tetra Society of North America on a
television program and then tracked down the local
"No one wants to be different," Susan
Crompton said during a recent interview at Kiwanis
House, an apartment-style building for families who stay
in the area overnight while making use of the resources
at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation.
Zipping around in a new walker at the house,
Lauren was doing what seven-year-olds do best: exploring
every nook and cranny. Now that the snow is gone, Lauren
can look forward to using her motorized wheelchair to
play games on her large lawn in Florenceville this
"We want her to have as much
recreational time outside as possible, at the same level
as any child," Crompton said while watching her
Since insurance won't cover them,
Crompton said, it is costly to have recreational devices
modified for her daughter, but she doesn't want Lauren
to have to spend all her time in a wheelchair.
In fact, they could have paid upwards of $400 to
have the sled done through the normal channels, but
through Tetra, the cost of the project was minimal. Now,
Lauren can enjoy being pulled through the snow by her
classmates, friends and her brother.
so many aids you can't buy. They're just not available
and so expensive to modify, there's just not the call
for them," Crompton said. "We searched for four years
just to find the right (size) sled."
Frederic and Melanie Lalonde, two volunteers for Tetra,
finished modifying Lauren's sled with a seat, it was
ready for winter, except for a few upholstering details
lovingly completed by Mom. Crompton said it does Lauren
and Mom good to see the little girl get to experience
winter with her friends.
"She looks outside and
the kids are playing. She can't do those things. If
there is some way for her to be involved, she has more
independence and there's less I have to do -- it works
Tetra is something into which more
families could and should tap, said Crompton, praising
the group's dedication, professionalism and innovation.
"It's so nice to have someone say, "Is there
something that you need?'"
Bill Wallace, who is
a therapist at the Stan Cassidy Rehabilitation Centre in
Fredericton, said he directs people to Tetra who have
particular needs that fall outside of the centre's
"The great thing about Tetra is that
there are always niches where things don't exactly fit,"
Wallace said." Lauren's sled didn't fit but it fit
nicely into the mandate for Tetra."
projects, that have funding, such as certain wheelchair
adaptation, and projects that involve medical input,
fall to the Cassidy centre. But some things, such as
recreational tools and communicationdevices for adults,
often aren't funded, aren't available commercially and
are costprohibitive for families to have made or
modified, he said.
This is where Tetra steps in.
"Independence is very, very helpful to the mind
and spirit and to family cohesiveness," Wallace said.
"Anything that helps clients participate and become more
involved socially is always beneficial."
the cost of having things, such as Lauren's sled
modified, is mostly the labour of the engineers. So
having to pay only for materials through Tetra makes
some ordinarily expensive modifications or devices less
costly and more easily attainable, Wallace said.
Wallace, who is also a volunteer with Tetra,
said there needs to be a push to make people aware of
what is available to them.
"Often, people don't
know there could be a solution. They look at what's
available off the shelf and they stop there. This is
another avenue they can
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