A 23-year-old man from Hunt’s Point says he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of the War Amps and its Key Tag program, which is celebrating 75 years of operation this year.
“Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without them,” Mark Allison told LighthouseNOW.
Allison was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three and lost his right leg. Today he is a lineman with Nova Scotia Power.
“The War Amps reached out to me through the hospital when I was six, and they told me about War Amps and a seminar, kind of like an information seminar,” he said. “There, I was able to talk to other child amputees and my parents were able to talk with other parents who had child amputees. They have been a part of my life ever since.”
Allison said the program has helped him in a number of ways.
“I’ve been able to walk every day, I’m able to do my job, able to swim, run, play basketball and hockey,” he said. “They’ve helped me to do everything that I’ve ever wanted to do.”
The program has also been instrumental in helping instill a sense of positivity, he said. “There’s been a lot of people there that were role models to me when I was growing up.”
The War Amps Key Tag program debuted in 1946, creating jobs for war amputees. It’s the main fundraiser for War Amps, a non-profit organization founded in 1918 by Canadian amputee veterans returning from the First World War with the philosophy of amputees helping amputees, according to its website.
The organization has continued to grow and has been helping amputees from a variety of backgrounds, and including children through its Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program, which it introduced in 1975.
War Amps provides financial assistance for artificial limbs and adaptive devices, as well as peer support.
The Key Tag program operates on a donation basis. Anyone can receive a key tag to attach to a key ring. If a set of keys get lost and is found, the finder can put the keys in an envelope and send them to the War Amps organization, in turn which will return the keys to the owner.
It also offers a service providing personalized address labels.
To date, the War Amps has returned 1.5 million sets of lost keys to their owners.
According to Jamie Lunn, a spokesman for War Amps, Allison is a prime example of the work that War Amps does.
“He’s a graduate of the program and really benefits from the funding from donors so that he’s able to live his everyday life,” she said. At the same time, “He’s been a great support of the War Amps,” added Lunn.
The War Amps receives no government funding. Its programs are supported through public donations through its Key Tag and address label service.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin