Saturday, July 28, 2012

CAMP JAKE :: Wondrous moments with Auguste

Sonya and Auguste enjoying the peaceful ocean (photo by Howard Chen)
CAMP JAKE / JULY 2012 :: Born without eyes and various other disabilities, Auguste is a handsome wheelchair-bound boy who required special attention throughout the week at Camp Jake. Although he came to Camp Jake with his own caregiver, Sonya—TRTP Vice President—spent a lot of time with him, talking, dancing, swimming and ensuring that he was involved in music at every opportunity.

Jake working with Auguste (photo by Howard Chen)
In the first days of camp, Jake—a Physicians For Peace physical therapist—evaluated Auguste in the pool to get a sense of his flexibility and potential for improvement over the week. Jake expertly maneuvered Auguste's limbs in every manner imaginable, moving from his small hands to arms to his curled up legs, using the soothing water to his advantage for these movements. After the evaluation, Jake handed off Auguste to Sonya and gave suggestions for her to work on straightening his legs that are usually in a tight bent position and ultimately trying to get him to put weight on his tiny legs.

Jake holding Auguste's feet in the pool (photo by Howard Chen)

Sonya exercised his legs for quite some time as Jake had suggested and slowly moved him through the water to a more shallow spot. Holding him under his arms around the chest, she encouraged him to put weight on his legs. To everyone's surprise, he did it—Auguste stood up in the water! Using Sonya as a stabilizer, he stood for at least 20 minutes in the pool that day. 

Little did we know that no one at St. Vincent's had ever seen Auguste stand! Although therapists had been working with him for years, they weren't even sure he was capable.

A group of deaf girls caught sight of this small but very significant feat. They started signing to one another saying "Hey, look at that!" Laura signed back "Yes, we hope to have him standing on both feet by the end of the week" to which they responded "No way!" Then "Very cool!" 

Another evening, Auguste was sitting alone after dinner. Freshly fed, his caregiver was helping another child so Sonya went over to him, stood by his wheelchair and began speaking to him. Auguste quickly wrapped his thin arms around Sonya's neck and STOOD UP on his own two feet, all by himself! 

Someone cried "Look at Auguste!" and the entire dining room turned and gasped. No one could believe what they were seeing! He stood again for more that 15 min that evening.

Auguste nearly jumped into Sonya's arms in one amazing moment
Later on in the week, Auguste began calling Sonya by name and asking to stand up by pulling up on her waist or neck. He stood in the pool, the ocean and on the pavement. On the final day of camp, before getting on the bus, he even said "I love you" in English and Kreyol. 

What a wondrous week with an extraordinary human being. We are so glad to be a part of this young man's life. It is our hope that he will continue to stand at St. Vincent's. Who knows? Maybe at the next camp we can help him WALK!

Auguste saying "hi" with his hands
Diana looking on at little Auguste on his own two feet

No comments: