Rotary Club of Tacurong turned over ten wheelchairs to children with cerebral palsy during the flag ceremony of the city government on August 19, 2013.

The wheelchairs came all the way from Western Australia as a grant from Rotary International based in Scarborough under its ‘Wheelchairs for Kids’ project.

Rey Miguel Lopez, president of Rotary Club of Tacurong, said that the grant of wheelchairs was born out his club’s awareness of the plight of children, especially those with cerebral palsy.

Lopez said that during the observance of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week in July where they awarded crutches to PWDs, they were touched at the sight of more than a hundred Persons with Disability (PWD) most of them were children. He said that they were particularly moved when a twelve year-old kid in an old wheelchair threw a tantrum. The kid, Christian Dave Catapan, has a cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that causes physical disability in human development. It affects the brain and the nervous system.

When told that there are many children with cerebral palsy who need wheelchairs, Rotary Club of Tacurong waste no time in coordinating with Rotary 3870 District Governor Teresita Navales who subsequently allocated ten units for Tacurong. The timing was great because there were already several units of wheelchairs that are just waiting for requests. Said wheelchairs were shipped months before from Australia facilitated by Past District Governor Muya Ekey.

The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) helped Rotary in the identification of the beneficiaries. PWD Focal Person Cathy Mae Catalan said that out of the 19 children they identified with cerebral palsy, the office prioritized ten who are in need the most.

During the awarding of wheelchairs, Lopez was teary-eyed while recalling how touched they were when they saw the condition of the kids. “This is the least that we can for these children. I hope that these wheelchairs bring positive change to their lives,” he said.

Each wheelchair, designed for kids with cerebral palsy, approximately costs P20 thousand each. It carried with it two blankets, a stuffed toy, and tools kit.

Another twelve year-old kid Anthony Mellado of Barangay Tina was excited with his brand new wheelchair. As Rotarians helped him settled onto the wheelchair during the turnover ceremony, he silently thanked them with a wide grin. He said that was the first time he seated on a chair with wheels adding that he was used to using an improvised mono block chair.

The old chair, he said, has been his companion in going to their barangay chapel to attend bible services on Sundays. He said he would wake up very early in the morning every Sunday because going to the chapel on board a chair without wheels would take him nearly an hour.

With his new and sturdy wheelchair, attending bible service every Sunday would not be tiring anymore for Anthony. And he said he has already on his list many places he intends to visit with his two-wheeled buddy. (LGU Tacurong City)