HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L.
Rose March-Coates of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is reaching out to the community in her efforts to raise money for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle to help her granddaughter live life to the fullest.
Sophia Coates has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. The six-year-old has the cognitive abilities of a three-year-old.
March-Coates has full custody of her granddaughter.
Although her current vehicle is in good shape, she said, it cannot be retrofitted to be wheelchair-accessible.
As Sophia grows, she said, it’s getting more difficult to transfer her granddaughter from her wheelchair to the car and then pack away the wheelchair and other items – including the child’s walker – that she also needs every day.
Sophia, who can walk with the assistance of a walker, is a Grade One student at Peacock Primary School.
While her granddaughter cannot speak, March-Coates said Sophia has no trouble communicating in other ways.
“Sophia is very, very smart. In the evening, when it’s bedtime, and I tell her it’s time to go to bed, she’ll actually pick up her toys herself now. I’ve been at that for years with her. We’ve done a lot of hands-over-hands, and now she’s graduated to doing it herself,” the proud grandmother said.
Sophia also recognizes when it’s time to eat, said March-Coates.
“When she’s hungry, and she knows it’s getting close to suppertime, she’ll go over to the table and bang on it,” she said. “And she’ll come over to me, look up at the remote to tell me it’s time to turn the TV off.”
In addition to playing indoors, Sophia also loves going for drives, attending birthday parties, and spending time at the playground.
“I had to move in December and I’m not near any playgrounds now. So, I have to put (Sophia) in the vehicle and go (to a playground),” March-Coates said.
March-Coates has a bad back and, although not directly related to Sophia’s care, the lifting aggravates her problem.
“I need help,” she said. “Sophia is getting bigger and bigger all the time. Even now, I have problems getting her in the car because she’s getting taller and she doesn’t bend her legs properly for me to put her in her seat.”
March-Coates said a wheelchair-accessible vehicle runs about $57,000. She has been approved for a grant from the provincial government for $25,000 towards the purchase of the vehicle.
However, she said, she must use – or lose — the money by February 2019.
March-Coates has sent letters to local businesses and has already raised about $9,000 with help from the community.
Since recent CBC coverage, she’s heard from more individuals, community groups and businesses who want to help.
March-Coates is determined to raise the rest of the funds (over $20,000) she needs, by the cut-off date.
“It’s only me and Sophia,” she said. “She’s my main priority. She’s my baby girl and I love her to death.
“I’m trying to do this to make her life a little easier.”
Anyone who would like to make a contribution to the vehicle can do so by visiting www.gofundme.com and searching Sophia-Marie’s Mobility.