High Five to Aussie Hands

Posted on Thursday 28th May, 2015

One of our newest members, Aussie Hands - an organisation for children with hand disabilities - have sent us this blog post introducing themselves to the wider limb different community.

Aussie Hands provides support, understanding and encouragement to children and adults with congenital and acquired hand disabilities and their families.  By providing a supportive network, we aim to ensure that children with hand disabilities don't feel alone. 

Aussie Hands organises social events in various parts of Australia which enable the children to not only meet other children, but also adults with hand disabilities.  This greatly reduces the isolation experienced by the children and enables them to build supportive relationships and self-confidence.  During the social gatherings, parents can ask questions, receive support and gain a sense of hope about the future lives of their children. 

Aussie Hands was formed in 2000 by Elizabeth Serpell, the mother of a child with a hand difference.  Her son David was born in 1999 with the hand condition Symbrachydactyly.  On his left hand he was missing the three middle fingers, with a small thumb and little finger. 

As a new mother, Elizabeth felt isolated and overwhelmed by mixed emotions.  She wanted to talk to other parents of children with hand differences but found that there was no specific support or organisation within Australia.  In response to this, Elizabeth decided to form Aussie Hands. 

Elizabeth remains heavily involved in Aussie Hands and her son David also attends events and volunteered as a mentor in a recent program.  This year David started trade school and hopes to become an electrician. 

Elizabeth and David on his first day of trade school

We asked an Aussie Hands members Karen, who last year participated in our Melbourne mentoring programme, to comment on what she gets outs of being a part of Aussie Hands. 

When I was asked to become involved with Aussie Hands I had to think about it because I didn't see what it could offer me.  Having had my hand difference since birth, over 50 years ago, I didn't feel the need to be part of a group focussing on their and my difference, but I decided to give it a go and see how it went. 

Clearly it went well because I now feel very attached to the group! Why the change? Three reasons really, first I do have a difference and in thinking about the group I had to think about my hand and how it has made my life different to say my siblings or peers.  I feel that it has made me more determined and probably taken me into areas and opportunities I may not otherwise have looked for, so in that way it has been a bonus. 

Karen and her little buddy Erin at one of Aussie Hands' mentoring programme events.

Secondly, it is nice to be part of Aussie Hands with people who just get that sometimes we do things differently and to exchange tips on how to handle the small things in daily life like doing up necklaces. 

Thirdly, and probably for me the most enjoyable, are the picnics with the younger kids with a hand difference where I can, just by being a grown-up also with a hand difference, show them that they will grow up and be fairly much the same as everyone else.  It's also nice to reassure and support their parents that its not such a burden and that their child will be okay.

In October 2015, Aussie Hands celebrates its 15 Year Anniversary.  We are planning an event in Melbourne to celebrate the occasion with members, sponsors and volunteers.  We are looking forward to the years to come! We are excited to be a member of EDRIC and connect with more people within the limb difference community.  We look forward to connecting with you in the future!

Tags: aussie hands australia limb difference children dysmelia symbrachydactyly Article


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