Taking his first steps at the age of 19

Bedminster-based global charity Motivation has launched a fundraising appeal focusing on the story of Frank and Mary. Frank, a 19-year-old Kenyan with cerebral palsy, had until recently never attended school or taken a step unaided.

The cultural stigma of the condition meant his own father had even abandoned family, as he was unable to deal with having a disabled child, and Frank was shunned, and even hidden from the community.

That is until he and his mother Mary attended one of Motivation’s parent and caregiver training sessions. These sessions teach parents how to care for their children, physically, but also mentally, empowering the individual and their family to accept and embrace their disabilities.

The training was life changing for both Mary and Frank, who with the help of a walker supplier by Motivation, took his first steps aged 19. For the first time since Frank was born, it felt like there was hope for him. One of the profoundest changes came in Mary’s attitude towards her son’s disability. 

She explains, “During the training, the trainers emphasised the need to change attitudes about children with disabilities among family members and the community at large. Now, even Frank himself started appreciating his disability and I started interacting with other people without hiding my child like how other parents do.”

Rebecca Andrews, Head of Partnerships and Philanthropy at Motivation, explains why they chose to focus on Frank and Mary for this year’s campaign: “We were moved by this family’s story, as it shows how proper intervention and advice can transform lives. Frank is now attending school and living a life of happiness and respect and Mary helps other parents to accept and support their own children’s disabilities. The effect the training has had, has been incredible.

“It’s extraordinary that a donation of only £5 will help train a parent and caregiver training facilitator to go on and teach up to 15 parents like Mary how to best care for their disabled child, every year. Anybody donating to our appeal this year will make a real tangible difference to the lives of disabled children and their family. Plus, any donation will be match funded by another Motivation supporter, so all gifts will have double the impact on people’s lives.”

To donate to the appeal, please go to motivation.org.uk/donate/frank