Lacombe Globe: Lacombe group giving Red Deer family a better home

Home renovations are stressful, but for one family, who deals with the everyday stress of raising a little girl with very special needs, this home reno is a stress reliever. A Better World – Neighbours is in the middle of making the Trca family home barrier-free for eight year old Nyah. Nyah suffers from a chromosomal translocation, one that her mother Angela said doctors have told them they haven’t seen before. Typically a chromosomal translocation, which simply means chromosones have been rearranged, can lead to Down Syndrome, but for Nyah it’s more than that. “It has manifested itself in numerous ways. The way the Stollery (Children’s Hospital) described it is that it presents itself as Cerebral Palsy,” said Angela. “She has epilepsy, scoliosis, she has vision issues, most of her corpus callosum is missing. She has a different recipe and her recipe has given us a whole different world and as time goes on different things show up.”

That has meant constant care for the eight-year old, who Angela said is more like a toddler, without the mobility. Nyah is confined to a wheelchair, which has made moving her around their Red Deer home difficult. That’s where the Lacombe-based A Better World – Neighbours stepped in. “The family needed a barrier-free bathroom and they needed their doors widened, some of the main doors in the home. We are also doing a ramp, they have some stairs down into their living room and we are doing a ramp down into the living room, so she can access that part of the house,” said coordinator Rhonda Ziakris, adding projects such as this are application or nomination based.

“The timeline is two weeks, so we are here gutting today (May 5) and we have asked the family to be out of the home for two weeks and they are returning to the home on May 19, so we have to be done.” In the past such Neighbours projects have seen as many as 100 volunteers on a project, with students from a Red Deer High School and Parkview Adventist Academy in Lacombe stepping up. Also most of the materials for this renovation have been donated.

“What has been amazing is the Lacombe businesses and most of our materials have been donated through the businesses in Lacombe; our labour is volunteer labour,” said Ziakris. “Skilled labour is also important, so we have had so many trades people and construction people in central Alberta donate their time as well.” Angela, who along with Nyah lives in the home with husband Todd, who had a serious workplace accident not long ago, and son Jacob, said the changes to the home will be an immense relief. “We have felt, and if not all families then most families with special needs do feel very alone in their situation, so for someone to step up in such a huge, huge way, it takes away so much of the pressure,” she said.

“Thoughts go through a persons mind in this situation of, ‘I don’t know how long I can do this, what if I have to give her up?’ Those kinds of thoughts come to your mind and when someone can take away those obstacles, then I know we can do this. “So, to have the doors widened, it sounds, for someone who hasn’t manoeuvred a chair into a house, through doorways and around corners, it is probably difficult to imagine, but I would say to people imagine doing five or six or more manoeuvres or course adjustments. And, then you can achieve your goal of getting through the door.” Angela and her family will be staying at her sister’s, but then, as if it were an episode of Extreme Home Makeover, the family will be headed to Palm Springs for a much deserved vacation, while the renovations are underway.

“I’m lucky enough that my sister, who has several friends in wheelchairs, built a ramp up to their house. So we are going to crash in on them. The second week, Nyah will be there for the whole two weeks, but some angel stepped forward and said we are sending you away for a week. I don’t know who it is, but someone caught wind of what was happening and said, ‘we are sending them to Palm Springs.”

By:  Vince Burke, Lacombe Globe