Today you are presented with a unique opportunity to help a 10 year old girl learn to speak for the first time. There are always a hundred and one causes worthy of your support but we think this may be particularly deserving of your attention.
Francesca Adam-Smith is a 10 year old from Wetherby. After her mother suffered heart failure during pregnancy Francesca was born prematurely. Since then she has had a lifetime of illnesses. She has suffered from septicemia, renal failure and high blood pressure. She has undergone operations on her stomach, hip and ears, nose and throat, not to mention a gastropathy. In short, this little girl has suffered enough.
Francesca’s rare genetic disorder means that she is essentially locked in her body. She lacks the strength to speak or sign and so communication is near impossible for her. Nevertheless doctors at Great Ormond Street and Leeds Hospital are convinced that she understands all that is said to her and is conscious of her condition. Her spark of intelligence is trapped by her disability. The older she gets the more frustrated she is becoming that she cannot reach out to the world around her.
However there is hope for Francesca and her family. There is a specialist school in Sussex that can offer the intensive treatment she needs. Sadly the school is not cheap. The cost to send Francesca for one year would be £60,000. The Leeds City Council has refused to fund this option, stating that the “cost to the public purse” is too great.
Rachel Shepherd, Francesca’s mother, disagrees. She has said to One&Other “The council are now suggesting I visit other provisions, at ten years old, I have visited many provisions for Francesca, I do not want to waste my time or my daughter´s time when I have found the perfect school to ensure she is given the chance of speech and independence. If the government would invest in children such as Francesca who have the mental ability but whose physical disability needs help, then they would have less people who are totally dependent on the state when they become adults.”
Thankfully, little by little Francesca is getting closer to her target of £40,000. Her father is running the Wetherby 10k on 11th September and seven children from Deighton Gates Primary have done a sponsored 30 mile bike ride. In addition Rachel and her supporters have organised a Charity Ball at Hazlewood Castle on the 2nd February 2013.
You can help get Francesca one step closer to her first word. This is a chance for you to have a direct impact on the course of a young girl’s life. The ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings is an ability that we consider so integral to our existence. One&Other asks that you give whatever you can afford to Francesca Adam-Smith, so that someday Francesca may be able to thank you in return.
Visit her Just Giving account and donate here.