Christmas Appeal supports kids

December 30, 2021 BY

Fun loving: Mackenzie Rowe and older brother Bentley. Photo: SUPPLIED

DONATIONS to the Bendigo Health Christmas Appeal this year will be used to help children needing rehabilitation services get the best start possible to their lives.

Money raised is set to go towards specialist equipment for Bendigo Health’s new paediatric rehabilitation centre, helping children such as one-year-old Mackenzie Rowe.

Mackenzie’s mother, Melita Fox, said her daughter had a rough start to life, which included being taken to the Royal Women’s hospital just hours after birth.

About four months later Mackenzie was diagnosed with a high risk of cerebral palsy and entered a difficult stage of telehealth therapies during the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

“We got over that hurdle and ever since we’ve been doing regular visits with the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service team at Bendigo Health, her local paediatrician and the Noahs Ark team through NDIS,” Ms Fox said.

Mackenzie’s rehabilitation has included physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and occupational therapy and Ms Fox said they’d be “lost without” the paediatric team.

“Without the paediatric team Mackenzie wouldn’t be where she is today,” she said. “She’s getting absolutely everything she need and the new facility is going to be phenomenal for her and her progress.”

Manager of Bendigo Health’s fundraising and foundation Rachel Mason said the Christmas Appeal helps provide the equipment needed for treatment of kids like Mackenzie.

“At any given time there‘s 100 or more children that are being treated by Bendigo Health rehabilitation services,” she said.

“Two thirds of the children that receive rehabilitation here at Bendigo Health have cerebral palsy, which is a permanent condition with no known cure and they require regular rehabilitation sessions, almost from birth.

“They can really come along with that sort of support in an amazing way. They can get into activities and also after accidents, they might need hydrotherapy and their goal might be getting back to riding a bike.”

Ms Mason said donations will allow the health service to “fill out the edges” of the new rehab centre, with the aim of building a “mini-gym”.

“There’s a lot of areas that still require specialist items,” she said. “The mini-gym is something that’s an addition, but it will be tailored to our paediatric kids that need to access tiny treadmills and things that are not provided as standard within the realm of government funding.”

So far, Bendigo Health has raised almost $64,000 of its $100,000 goal. Donations can be made at bendiohealthfoundation.org.au/Christmas until Saturday, 8 January.