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Local teen works to prevent amputations

By Lorraine Graves

Published 2:53 PDT, Wed July 10, 2019

Since he was five-years old, Owen Greaves has been a War Amps Champ, spreading the message, “PLAYSAFE spot the danger before you play.”

Since he was five-years old, Owen Greaves has been a War Amps Champ, spreading the message, “PLAYSAFE spot the danger before you play.”

Now 17, Greaves hopes to convince children along parade routes and throughout our community to prevent serious injuries that could result in the loss of a limb.

July 1 he joined The War Amps float in the Steveston Salmon Festival parade, encouraging other kids to be aware of the dangers in their play environments.

Born missing his left arm below the elbow, Greaves uses artificial limbs and adaptive devices to help him stay active and take part in his favourite activities.

Some of those artificial limbs come through the War Amps’ programs offered to children.

In addition to public safety education, the Champ program assists with the costs of standard artificial limbs and ongoing adjustments or repairs not covered through provincial or private medical plans or group insurance.

The program also covers 100 per cent of the cost of recreational limbs and devices, such as those designed for swimming, biking or playing a musical instrument.

While financial assistance must be pre-authorized, the Champ program can also pay for the cost of travelling to a centre for fittings, molds and adjustments. To learn more, go to https://www.waramps.ca/about-us/faq/

The War Amps believes no one is better qualified to spread the PLAYSAFE message than young amputees, like Greaves, who know what it is like to live without a limb.

A variety Champs, child amputees, ride on board PLAYSAFE float in parades across the country, reaching thousands of children with the War Amps’ safety message.

The float sports eye-catching displays that have a special focus on “mean machines” like lawn mowers, trains, cars and farm equipment, and warn children of the dangers around them.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Power lawn mowers caused 22 per cent of the amputation injuries among children.”

While it’s great to give the kids a sense of responsibility for mowing the grass, they need to be old enough and to be taught how to do it safely. How many times have you seen a kid mowing the grass in sandals, with no eye or hearing protection?

For the pediatricians’ information on mower safety for children and teens click https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/107/6/1480

And, simply googling, “Trains, children, amputations, Canada,” offers a host of examples of the sad consequences of playing around trains.

As part of his volunteering, Greaves also meets with children who have lost limbs in accidents to offer hope and practical advice. Many of the innovative ways of coping with life one-handed come from occupational therapists and other amputees like Greaves.

In addition to parades and financial aid, The War Amps spreads the safety message in a video where eight young amputees share their stories about how they lost their limbs in accidents and warn other children to spot the danger before they play. To see the video, called, “PLAYSAFE: Don’t Let It Happen to You,” click waramps.ca/playsafe.

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