Dylan Schwarz Hits the Ground Running Thanks to Lions Clubs

18 Mar 2015 |

Canberra’s Dylan Schwarz hits the pavement with a gleaming smile and a spring in his step. But it’s thirsty work for the 10-year-old – and wouldn’t be possible without his new $7000 heavy duty walker.

Dylan has cerebral palsy and relies on the equipment to take a break from his powered wheelchair and get his muscles moving. He tried out his new hands-free Hart walker for the first time on Wednesday, thanks to the combined fund-raising efforts of four local Lions clubs. His mother, Rebecca, had trouble keeping up.

“He likes to run, he gets great joy out of frightening me,” she laughed.

Brindabella, Kambah, Lake Tuggeranong and Woden Lions clubs have joined forces for the past six years to keep Dylan walking. Through various fund-raising efforts and the Lions Children’s Mobility Foundation, the four clubs have raised thousands of dollars for two walkers and ongoing maintenance costs of $1000 a year.

The new $6980 model is Dylan’s second walker, after he outgrew the first one he received in 2008. Dylan said the slightly heavier walker felt a little different from his previous model. Despite the change, the year 5 pupil hit the ground running strapped to his new set of wheels. It will allow him to keep up with twin brother Sean, seven-year-old sister Ella Rose, and his classmates at Wanniassa Hills Primary School.

“I’m used to going quite fast,” he beamed.

The new walker will also allow Dylan to join his family in the STEPtember fund-raising challenge next month, which sees participants aim to take 10,000 steps a day to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Mrs Schwartz said the family would have struggled to get the equipment without the clubs' support. “If we didn’t have their support we simply wouldn’t have it. They’re not cheap,” she said.

Dylan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at eight weeks of age. He underwent early intervention therapy before receiving his first walker as a four-year-old.  The technology has enabled Dylan to join his friends in a number of school-based activities including an upcoming walkathon in a fortnight. “It gives him a chance to move around like a normal kid, really,” Mrs Schwarz said.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Sue Bailey said Dylan’s new walker was more stable than his previous equipment and better suited to his growing, more-abled body. Using the walker has not only strengthened his legs but his confidence as well, she said. “For someone like Dylan, who would never be an independent walker … with his peers, he’s not just sitting in a chair,” she said. “For the normal development of the joints and the muscles, he needs that weight bearing. This gives him full weight bearing. His walking skills have developed and he really enjoys being on his feet.”

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