BCWBS Success Story: Thaddeus

Like many little brothers, three-year-old Darcy just wants to be as fast as his seven-year-old brother Thad. The two brothers race around the gym as Darcy tries to tag Thad in a game of Shark. Finally, Thad slows down and lets a triumphant Darcy tag him.

Tag games like this one are played by children across the globe every day. The only thing that makes this moment unique is that both brothers are using wheelchairs…and only one of them needs to be.

Though Thad has a genetic condition that makes walking difficult, Darcy is able-bodied.

“I don’t think that Darcy realizes yet that Thad is in a wheelchair,” says their mother Candice. “He knows he uses a wheelchair, but I don’t think it’s clicked yet that he can’t walk. It just is what it is. It’s part of everyday life.”

The two brothers are part of our Let’s Play program, which helps children with disabilities under 8 get physically active. For Thad, this means attending Let’s Play days, where he meets other children with disabilities and plays games. For Darcy and one-year-old brother Jimmy, it means having fun with Thaddeus. For their mom, it means connecting with other parents who have children with disabilities.

“There are a lot of things no one tells you when you have a child with a disability,” she says. “So it’s been good to meet the families and see the same kids at events all the time. They all grow together, and they form good friendships.”

When Thad started school, the Let’s Play program worked with his teachers to integrate him into physical education classes. Now, two Let’s Play chairs are at his school permanently: one for Thad, and one for a classmate.

“I don’t think his classmates even notice the wheelchair anymore,” says Candice. “At the very beginning, every child was like, ‘I want to be the one in the wheelchair. It looks like so much fun.’ Now it’s just kind of part of their day.”

For the kids in Thad’s class, including a child in a wheelchair in their games is completely normal. When we started the Let’s Play program five years ago, this wasn’t the case. Children with physical disabilities sat on the sidelines in gym class and on the playground. This made it difficult for them to make friends, play with their siblings, develop self-esteem, and become independent.

Today, Thad is an active, outgoing child who doesn’t worry about being different. He plays sledge hockey and races track, and he wants to design video games when he grows up.

“Since we started with the Let’s Play program he’s a lot more confident, especially at school,” says Candice. “He’s got no fear of trying new things or going different places. He just dives in now and never worries about not fitting in.”

When you donate to the Let’s Play program, you don’t just help children like Thad grow strong and confident. You also help a family learn and play together, and you help to build a more inclusive society where all children grow up seeing a wheelchair as just another way to have fun.

This Christmas, will you help us give the gift of sport to a child with a disability? To donate, click here.