The War Amps is nearly finished its year-long 100th anniversary, reflecting on how it helps amputees like 10-year-old Elijah Belanger.
Elijah was born a right-hand amputee here in Lloydminster. Immediately, his parents Danette and Robert Belanger were connected with The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program. The CHAMP Program has allowed Elijah to have prosthetic limbs, attend seminars over the summer, meet new friends and learn to deal with challenges he may meet in his life.
His mother, Danette Belanger, says the CHAMP Program has been a big part of his life, and have helped him grow his confidence as a child amputee.
“They have given us opportunities to learn so much as a family, and also for him to meet other kids, know he can do so many things and tackle things in a way that works best for him,” says Belanger. She says he’s encountered many different challenges in his life.
“Learning to do things with two hands when he only has the one hand to do it, learning to carry different things,” adds Belanger. “It’s been a little bit hard to just sit back. We’re very confident that he’ll figure things out, and he will know how to do it, and solve his problems and figure out what works best for him.”
Belanger adds the CHAMP program has, on top of giving him confidence in his abilities, given her son a great social benefit through meeting other child amputees.
“The CHAMP program has helped him with resources, we see their magazines every month and we look to get ideas and inspiration about what he could do, or what other kids are doing that he may want to try,” says Belanger. “But when he goes to the seminars and sees so many kids that are just the same as him, I think it really helps him realize that the world’s a big place, and there are all sorts of people in it.”
The War Amps is very dedicated to their CHAMP Program. Executive Director of the Program, Danita Chisholm says, “Although The War Amps has provided 100 years of innovative programs, there is still much to do to ensure amputees like Elijah have the artificial limbs they need to lead full and active lives.”
The War Amps started in 1918 after World War I, as a group of amputees helping amputees. They receive no government grants and its programs are possible through public support of the Key Tag and Address Label Service, which allows the purchase of key tags for return when they are lost.