APSLEY — Countless Canadians have been supported and guided by the War Amps since the non-profit organization’s inception.
Four-year-old Michaela Monsigneur is one of them.
Born a double leg amputee, the energetic Apsley girl was fitted with artificial legs at the age of one after entering the War Amps Child Amputee Program (CHAMP).
“When she first received them … she didn’t really know what they were,” recalled Michaela’s mother Lyndsay Macdonald. “Her muscle strength wasn’t there for her to stand up and walk around right away. But then she really got going — and now she’s running around.”
When Michaela isn’t playing outside with her older brother and sister, she’s jumping on her grandmother’s trampoline — or horse riding.
“She does everything every other kid does, just in a different way,” Macdonald said.
“With The War Amps support, Michaela has been fitted with artificial limbs so that she can take part in activities like any other child.”
This year, the non-profit charitable association marked the 75th anniversary of its Key Tag Service.
The initiative was established in 1946 to allow returning war amputees to work for competitive wages while providing a valuable service to Canadians. The lost key return service raises funds to support the delivery of War Amps programs.
Michaela’s journey with the War Amps began when she was just three months old, when Macdonald and her husband, Michael Monsigneur, signed her up with CHAMP.
The program provided Michaela with financial support for her artificial legs — and more, including invaluable peer support.
“We’ve met a lot of people through the program, especially at the CHAMP seminars,” said Macdonald. “It just makes it easier talking to someone who knows what you’re going through.”
CHAMP members are also provided the opportunity to receive “adaptive devices,” including “water legs” to help with swimming. “Hopefully, later on in the future, they’ll be more adaptive devices for (Michaela’s) activities, like horseback riding, which is a passion of hers,” Macdonald said.
Over the years, Macdonald said the program has allowed her daughter to flourish.
“It’s really made her a confident little girl with a lot of spice,” she said.
“The War Amps help children grow. They come out of War Amps at the end with a confidence that they may not have had without it.”
Michael said the program has instilled leadership skills in his daughter.
“I’m very proud of her. It’s great that she’s part of the War Amps community, so when she’s older she can help other CHAMPs,” he said.
Macdonald echoed her husband’s pride in seeing Michaela thrive.
“We are so proud of Michaela because she doesn’t let her amputation stop her from doing anything she sets her mind to.”
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at email@example.com.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner