Making noise in the park for spina bifida awareness

 

By Chase Ferguson

When Emily Beauchamp was born eight years ago with spina bifida, her mother Janice was not familiar with the birth defect.

“We had never heard of it back then,” Beauchamp said.  “That’s why we’re out here to raise awareness.”

Emily, Janice and roughly 25 friends and family members walked through King’s Navy Yard Park Sunday evening to draw attention to spina bifida.  The birth defect occurs when the spine fails to develop properly during pregnancy, resulting in permanent damage to the spine and nervous system.

Emily, who recently celebrated her eighth birthday, happily participated in walking along with many of her friends from school.

This was the third year that the family organized the event.

Between the walkathon, a yard sale, and a lemonade stand, Beauchamp hopes to raise $500 for the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalous Association of Ontario (SB&H) this year.  The organization works to raise awareness and improve the quality of life for those living with spina bifida.  SB&H has provided books that help teach Emily about living with her condition.

 

Supporters gather to walk for spina bifida awareness Sunday evening in King's Navy Yard Park

Beauchamp said she knows four other families in the area who are affected by spina bifida and enjoys connecting with them.

“It is always nice to connect to others who understand what living with spina bifida is like,” she said.

Sunday’s walk was one of many locally organized events held all over the province.

Christine Petkovic was another parent of a child with spina bifida who participated in the walk with her son.

“We’re always very happy to raise awareness,” she said.

Petkovic said all couples should get genetic screening before having children to know if they are at risk for birth defects such as spina bifida.

The condition is one of the most common permanent birth defects in Canada, affecting about 1 in 1300 people.

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