Project Story: The Upholding Love of Family
One day, a father carried his 14-year-old son Xiaozhi on his back and arrived at ICC’s therapy room. It took some time to understand Xiaozhi’s physical needs. His spasms were strong and his spine had begun to show signs of deformity. He had outgrown one chair loaned by ICC’s Community Outreach Project (COP) and a replacement from a local charity was no longer suitable for him to use.
Sitting behind this young man and feeling the strength of his body pushing backwards, it was obvious that he needed something specifically designed for his needs. We took measurements and talked through his day-to-day needs in sitting. Fitting the right chair was going to be a challenge, but I thought we could achieve it with some degree of success given a bit of time, research and discussion.
Aware that we all spend a great percentage of our time sleeping and lying down, we asked Xiaozhi, “What position do you find most comfortable?” Some usual responses would be “on his side” or “with a teddy bear under his legs.” I wasn’t prepared for what came next.
“Xiaozhi was most relaxed when lying on his father’s chest!” we listened as his mum explained. That image of this young man, twisted and tight, finally relaxing against his father touched me deeply. There was so much evidence of beauty and goodness in this family: loving commitment to each other; presence in the midst of great challenge; openness in weakness; tenderness in strength…and much more.
As I walked out of the therapy room, I was struck again by the immeasurable importance of the COP, which seeks to support families raising children with special needs. COP provides a place for them to seek practical help and share their struggles. Also, it reminds everyone who came to the project that there are others who still believe in the great value of family and the life of every soul.
The provision of a wheelchair is such a small thing but I believe in giving a place of comfort to sit, something else is also happening. A young man is being honoured; a family is being valued. In this wheelchair, a body is being protected for a future that will certainly hold challenges but I hope that it is also a future that will continue to know the upholding love of family.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROJECT
The Community Outreach Project (COP) is a ground-breaking project established by ICC in Changsha in 2008 to prevent abandonment in China. It works to provide family support services for hundreds of families raising children with disabilities.