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Eleven-year-old Elton George dreamt of being able to walk, a feat many take for granted.
When he joined the Centre at age seven, he had to undergo Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy a condition that prevented him from using his legs.
After two years of rehabilitation at the Ptolemy Reid's Special School, Elton was able to enrol at Sacred Heart Primary School in September of 2002.
Today, he proudly walks to and from school.
He is still in therapy but showing rapid signs of development although his condition also affects his mental capacity.
Nigel Richardson spent 16 of his 30 years at the Rehab Centre where he received early treatment and was taught how to be mobile in a working environment.
Muscular Dystrophy, a disorder affecting his lower limbs confined him to a wheel chair.
Muscular Dystrophy is a hereditary progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles.
After completing an electrician's course, Nigel gained employment at the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company as a Wireless Operator.
Today, he is a Customer Representative there.
Elton, in an invited comment said that the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre is lot of fun, he has many friends there and Christmas is always his favourite time there.
Nigel said he had no idea where he would have been today without the Centre’s support.
The two success stories were highlighted when the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre opened its doors to the public as part of its activities to mark ‘International Day of Disabled Persons’.
Administrator of the Centre, Ms. Cynthia Massay, introduced the two young men to an audience which included British High Commissioner, Mr. Steve Hiscock, members of the media, representative from the Caribbean Council for the Blind, Mr. Arvil Grant, staff of the Centre, representatives from National Bank of Industry and Commerce (NBIC), and numerous persons who turned up to tour the Centre.
She said that the ‘Open Door’ would provide an insight into what the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre is all about, its history and the many services offered.
During the tour, which was conducted by Ms. Massay, departmental heads explained the operations of their sections and answered questions.
The Administrator appealed for parents to bring their babies early into the Centre if they observe any abnormal behaviour.
She explained that for rehabilitation to be effective, early intervention is the key.
While most parents would bring their children at age five or six, starting from two years will contribute significantly to faster rehabilitation.
The touring party had a first-hand look at the operations of the departments including: Vocational Classes, Therapy Department, The Special Education Classes, Dormitories, Kitchen, Prosthesis and Orthopaedics Workshop and the Auditory and Optical Rooms. There is also a Laundry Room at the facility.
The technicians in the Prosthesis and Orthopaedics Workshop are all qualified professionals, trained in Brazil and Japan.
During the tour, students from Bishops High School joined and interacted with staff and residents of the facility.
The services offered include hearing tests for all ages, the provision of hearing aids, ear moulds, ear blocks (for frequent swimmers), wheelchairs and elbow crutches.
The Centre also manufactures, corrective footwear, (heel pads, build-ups, arch supports, lumbar supports, corsets, artificial limbs and splints.
They can also repair wheel chairs, shoes, luggage, children's prams, buggies and strollers.
Short and long-term rental of wheel chairs and elbow crutches can be arranged.
High Commissioner Hiscock, who made some brief remarks prior to the tour, said that he is completely humbled by the dedication of the staff and volunteers of the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre and is in awe of the sacrifice they are making so that the disabled can enjoy life.
The Commissioner described the new Optical Unit, which was opened on December 2, as of world class standard.
The Centre offers spectacles at a reduced cost, but to access this service, individuals must be tested by a specialist at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and be recommended.
Representative from the Caribbean Council for the Blind, Mr. Arvil Grant, also delivered a few remarks.
Mr. Grant said that his organisation is elated to join hands with the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre and the people of Guyana in facilitating the extension of the work done by the facility.
He announced that the Eye Care Caribbean, the sister corporation of the Caribbean Council for the Blind, recently began delivery of services to provide prescription glasses to persons with visual impairments.
The UN General Assembly had proclaimed in a Resolution 47/3 of October 14, 1992, that December 3 be observed annually as the ‘International Day of Disabled Persons’.
In Guyana this has been the practice since 1993.
The observance is done so continued support can be given to a country's national programme for the disabled.
This year's theme was ‘Sustainable Livelihood and Independent Living.’
The Centre, which has been in existence since 1967, is now a semi-autonomous body. The staff, which includes nurses on call 24 hours, is now caring for 22 residents.
The NBIC presented a donation of $30 000 during the ceremony. (Shirwin Campbell)