Dozens of children and adults spent Sunday morning in Manchester, N.H., running and playing during an event focused on helping those who have lost limbs or have other limb differences learn how they can be more physically active and fit.
One of the participants, 3-year-old Nadia Kim, who lives in Haverhill, Mass., practiced using a new prosthetic leg in races with one of her brothers.
“She’s not being held back, if anything, [she is] empowered more,” said her father, Charles Kim, in a phone interview. “It’s good to see her embrace that.”
The clinic, held at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, brought together more than 40 participants, according to the Challenged Athletes Foundationof San Diego, Calif., and Össur, an Iceland-based company that manufactures prosthetics.
It also featured New England-based track and field paralympians Femita Ayanbeku and Noelle Lambert, who competed as members of Team USA at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, the statement said.
The free session allowed the participants to learn how they can participate in fitness, plyometric stretching, and mobility drills, organizers said in a statement.
“The day’s activities have been designed to address the enforced lack of motion many people experienced during COVID-related lockdowns, which can create life-limiting (or even life-threatening) challenges for people living with limb difference,” the statement said.
Nadia, who was presented with the new prosthetic manufactured by Össur during the event, was born with a congenital limb difference in her right leg. Part of her leg below the knee was amputated after she reached her first birthday, Kim said.
He and his wife, Sarah, had learned about their daughter’s condition about 17 weeks into the pregnancy.
They were presented with options, he said. Doctors could amputate part of Nadia’s leg below the knee, and train her to use a prosthesis, or attempt reconstructive surgery.
The latter option did not guarantee a successful outcome, and doctors warned they might still have to amputate her leg later in life.
Kim and his wife decided to spare their daughter the years of surgery with that uncertain outcome.
After the girl underwent the amputation shortly after she turned 1, she began using a prosthetic limb. The limb given to Nadia on Sunday is designed for greater mobility than her last one, Kim said.
Nadia was excited to get her new limb and enjoyed some of the running drills offered at the clinic. Kim said his daughter was already comfortable running while using a prosthetic, but the clinic, though, was valuable in other ways.
“She never felt any different anyway, but it’s nice for her to just see other kids with similar conditions,” Kim said. “It’s nice for her to see other people just living their lives with a prosthetic.”
All a parent wants is to see, Kim said, is that their child is happy.
And when his daughter is using a prosthetic, it gives her enough mobility to run around with her two older brothers, who are 7 and 5, he said. She also has a 2-year-old brother.
“Just seeing her grow up — she doesn’t skip a beat, she doesn’t know the difference,” Kim said. “She’s always laughing and smiling.”
Nadia loves dancing, and is learning ballet and tap, Kim said. And she has further ambitions: Some days, she wants to run a beauty salon, on others, she wants to be a doctor.
“It’s changing every day,” Kim said.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.