She was my baby, my perfect little girl. Nothing could have prepared me for the news. I felt as if my heart had broken on two.”
– Teresa, Chloe’s mum
We need your help to give South Australian kids like Chloe every opportunity to lead fulfilling and independent lives.
Chloe was just three years old when her life was turned upside down.
It was the diagnosis Teresa and Tim had been afraid to hear. Their little girl had cerebral palsy.
Every day, more new families step through our doors, whose children have just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. They can be overwhelmed and scared for the future of their children. Thankfully, with support from generous donors like you, Novita is there when families feel most vulnerable. Our expert team works closely with each family – and gently begins to guide them on their journey.
We need your support today to help kids like Chloe build their strength, mobility and confidence.
I know your heart goes out to Teresa, Tim and their family.
Chloe has spirit and determination, and slowly but surely, she is gaining strength, mobility and some independence.
But she still needs your help.
It started with a perfect pregnancy.
Teresa says she had the ‘perfect pregnancy’. She and her husband, Tim, were excited first time parents. On Boxing Day 2001, they welcomed their little girl, Chloe to the world. She was a beautiful, placid baby.
But sadly, all was not as it seemed. Tim remembers it clearly:
“We started noticing that Chloe was different from other children her age. She wasn’t hitting those major milestones like rolling and crawling. In the early days, just holding her head up was impossible. As she got older, she wasn’t communicating – we hadn’t heard those ‘first words’ either. Something wasn’t right. Teresa would go and visit a friend or go to mother’s group and come home really worried and upset.
All the other children were developing new skills – but Chloe wasn’t. After Chloe was tucked up in bed, Teresa would tell me her fears. We weren’t sure what to do. Our family and friends said we shouldn’t worry. ‘Every child develops at their own pace,’ they would say.
Then our second daughter, Celine arrived. She just powered along, meeting every milestone. In no time at all, Celine overtook Chloe and as we watched, that gap continued to widen. They were developing and acquiring skills at two completely different speeds. We tried physiotherapy for Chloe, to see if this would help her. But at the age of three, Chloe still wasn’t walking.”
Tim and Teresa knew they had to take the next step.
They were living in Townsville at the time, so they flew to Sydney to see a paediatric neurologist. Teresa remembers how incredibly anxious they were:
“We were scared. There were so many tests and scans, but after all of them, we finally had an answer. Chloe had cerebral palsy. We were so scared. What would the future hold? How would we cope?”
“Our whole world changed in a moment.”
Teresa and Tim were shattered. They were desperate to help their little girl but had no idea how:
“There is no way to prepare yourself for the news that your daughter may never walk or talk. We knew absolutely nothing about cerebral palsy. All we knew was that we were desperate to help her.”
Every week, our specialist teams spend countless hours supporting kids like Chloe build strength and the ability to achieve independence. It gives them, and their family, hope for the future.
With your generosity and support, the team combines their expertise with specialised equipment, aquatic therapy pool sessions and mobility aids.
Our programs are tailored to the individual child’s goals, strengths and needs and consider the daily activities and routines that can be used to support skill development and maintain activity, flexibility and strength.
Creating a personalised plan for every child gives them the best possible chance to achieve their goals – but it is hard work and expensive. And with another child born with cerebral palsy every 15 hours in Australia, demand for our services grows.
That’s why we desperately need your support to help children like Chloe.
You see, for children who have limited mobility the pool is one of the few places they can move more freely without fear of falling.
“Chloe’s Novita team is extraordinary,” said Tim – this is only possible with your support.
It’s now more than 10 years since Tim and Teresa discovered Novita and Teresa says she can’t bear to think where they would be without their extended Novita family:
“When we first started with Novita, Chloe’s mobility and speech was minimal. We were thrust into this strange new world of paperwork, assessments, therapy sessions – everything was so new and unsettling. But the team at Novita was incredible. At first, Chloe found it difficult to adapt – and so did we. But gradually, as she built relationships with her therapists, things began to change.”
Even after all this time, Tim still marvels at the positivity and commitment of our team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists:
“They work with Chloe with such dedication. Every appointment, over and over, they have supported Chloe through thousands of repetitions. That’s how long it took to train her muscles to use a knife and fork, to walk and talk. Novita, and all of its generous supporters, really are our extended family. They’ve been with us for more than 10 years, every step of the way. I honestly don’t know how we would be able to cope without their incredible support and understanding.”
Novita physiotherapist, Julia sees Chloe every two weeks in the gym and in the pool, gently working with her to improve her mobility and confidence. They work hard, and it requires endless commitment from both of them.
“I’m working with Chloe to develop her muscles and gain the confidence she needs to take her first independent step. Right now, she is reliant on her walker, but she can stand independently for about 20 seconds. I have seen her stand on her own and take a few steps forward, but there’s still a lot of fear. She is afraid she will fall. We use lots of different equipment to build her strength and mobility, including the LiteGait. It’s a harness that takes her body weight and enables her to walk freely. Gradually, with support and encouragement, using all the different equipment, standing with me in the pool and doing deep-water exercises, Chloe is gaining more confidence. I know she will get there.”
Slowly but surely, Chloe is creating a brighter future – thanks to her hard work and your support.
Tim is so proud of how far Chloe has come:
“I won’t lie – it’s hard. Every day is challenging. But Chloe has come so far, thanks to Novita and its supporters. She wants to do more; she’s willing to try new things and take on new challenges. She’s doing more every day. She can get in and out of the car on her own now. She sets the table for us at home. She loves to bake and when we go shopping at the supermarket, I can ask her to get something like milk and she heads off alone, pushing the trolley. She stands on tiptoe to get the cat food off the shelf.
All the time in the aquatic therapy pool has paid off, too. We went away as a family recently, and I watched with amazement when she swam a whole length of a pool overarm! I couldn’t wait to tell her physiotherapist Julia. These are all fantastic improvements for Chloe, building her confidence, muscle strength and giving her new skills. And none of this would have been possible without Novita and the generous support of people like you.”
Chloe has already achieved so much thanks to your support. But we need to do more for Chloe. You can help her take an independent step, so she can progress towards walking a short distance on her own.
She needs your help to do this.
We asked Tim what he would like to say, to explain why your donation is so important:
“Teresa and I have spoken to many other parents whose children are living with disability and don’t have Novita in their lives. They feel lost. We’ve been so incredibly lucky. We want other children and families to have the support we’ve had. That’s why we are sharing our story today. If you are able to make a donation, you’ll not only be helping Chloe, but other kids like her. It will change their lives, giving them hope for a brighter future. And knowing that they will never be alone.”
This is such an important time for Chloe, right on the cusp of taking independent steps. But she can only do it with your support. Will you please help her take her first step on her own?
Thank you for continuing to support Novita.