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Lilly’s race against the clock

Teacher aid Grace Mowbray, left, Lilly and her mum Amy Dickon. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Masterton’s Lilly Dickon has always been a fighter writes Emily Ireland.

A miracle born at just 25 weeks, the now five-year-old lives with the challenges of cerebral palsy and vision impairment every day.

But that hasn’t stopped her from starting school this year, learning in “leaps and bounds” at Douglas Park.

Her conditions however, have prevented Lilly from going through crucial stages of development as a child, including crawling and walking.

Instead, she is either wheelchair-bound or resorts to “bum-shuffling” from place to place – an unnatural movement which means, without swift intervention, she will likely need hip replacements at the age of six.

But there’s hope for Lilly in the form of intense physical therapy in Australia, which her mum Amy and teacher aide Grace Mowbray are hoping they can raise money for.

It will cost about $15,000 for flights, the therapy, and accommodation, but for Lilly’s mum, it’s the best shot there is to get Lilly walking.

“The way she is moving is completely unnatural,” she said.

“Soon Lilly will end up being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.”

“The time is now. She is wanting to learn, she is wanting to walk.”

Teacher aide Grace Mowbray has only known Lilly since she started school this year, but the five-year-old with a “wicked sense of humour” has already made quite the impression on her and on other school kids.

“It’s really great at Douglas Park because the children have been so accepting,” Grace said.

“They don’t see Lilly as anything other than Lilly – she is her own little person and they will do anything in their power to come down to Lilly’s level and play with Lilly. . . but she would love it if she could get to their level.”

Lilly even has her own “cartwheel club” at school, Grace said – “she is a superstar”.

“We’ll go to the playground at lunchtime and the children will all come to meet us to do cartwheels for Lilly.

“And Lilly just goofs off – absolutely goofs off.

“I think the hardest thing for Lilly is that she just wants to be involved . . . there’s so much frustration there.”

Grace said because Lilly missed crucial developmental stages like crawling, other development stages had been impacted.

“She needs to learn how to crawl so that she can take her first steps.

“This will all become part and parcel of her therapy plan, getting those muscles moving the way they need to in order to make her stable enough.

“If we can take just one hurdle away, it will make everything a bit easier – the world will become Lilly’s oyster.”

Even if Lilly’s family and friends can raise $15,000 for the Adelaide-based treatment, the therapy itself, The Timmerman’s Method, will not be easy – “It is going to be extremely hard”, Grace said.

“Lilly is going to have three weeks of intensive therapy at a minimum of three hours a day.

“It will be a long haul, but it’s about looking at that light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s a very real possibility that Lilly could be walking by the end of this. That’s the aim of the game.

“And if she can’t walk unaided, at least she will be able to walk aided and not have to worry about a hip replacement at the age of six.”

Lilly’s family have set up a Givealittle page to raise money for the therapy, givealittle.co.nz/cause/love-for-lilly.

“We’re hoping the Wairarapa community can get behind Lilly,” mum Amy said.

“It would mean the world.”

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