By Scott Reichenbach
Hope Walks president and co-founder
In my role as the president of Hope Walks, It breaks my heart when I see a young teen or adult with untreated clubfoot. Too often they are begging on the street. Not in school. Unemployed. Too often their family has shunned them as a burden on their already limited resources. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The United Nations says approximately 15 percent of the world’s population or 1 billion people live with some form of disability. It is estimated that nearly two million of them live with clubfoot that has never been treated.
These are big numbers, but we must remind ourselves that behind each of these numbers is a person and a family. They are all God’s children who deserve to have access to treatment and the same opportunities you and I do.
A treatable disability
Not every disability can be easily treated, but clubfoot can be, using simple weekly plaster casts and ultimately braces for a few years to maintain the correction. When you see feet that are twisted at birth and then see straight feet after four to eight casts, it almost seems too good to be true but check out photos above of this little boy in Ethiopia last fall and him, this summer.
Healing a child born with clubfoot puts them back in the running. It puts them back into society and gives them the opportunity to walk, run, play, make friends, and find meaningful work. It gives their family hope, hope for a future. All with just a few plaster casts.
At Hope Walks, we believe a treatable condition like clubfoot shouldn’t be a lifelong disability and keep children from walking. Although it is a tall order to correct the clubfoot of all two million people living with this condition, surely we can ensure the next generation of kids born with clubfoot and their families will have access to the quality care they need so their feet are straight before they learn to walk.
International days of recognition come and go with little fanfare. Join us as we work to free kids from the burden of clubfoot and make sure this International Day of Persons with Disabilities is not just another day on the calendar.