Belfast Telegraph

Parents in plea to help Natasha Falls take first steps

By Amanda Ferguson

She's seven years old – but has never been able to walk.

Now the family of Natasha Falls, who was born with a rare chromosome disorder, are urging the public to back a campaign to help get the little girl walking for the first time.

Ballygowan mother Natalie is urging Belfast Telegraph readers to make a donation toward specialist treatment for her daughter Natasha, who has a chromosome disorder called 18q- as well as Pitt-Hopkins syndrome.

The conditions mean she has never been able to walk but Natasha could be helped with intensive therapy available in Northern Ireland.

Natalie (34) and her husband Ian (46), who are also the busy parents to three-year-old Ruben, have just launched the Natasha's Journey of Hope campaign with the aim of raising £17,000 for her to have therapy at a neuro-rehabilitation centre in Newry.

"The centre is hopeful they will get her holding and balancing her own body weight with the hope of eventually walking," Natalie said.

"The campaign is to help meet the demands of high costs of therapy and equipment Natasha may need."

Natasha has battled ill-health since her birth at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald on March 7, 2007.

"Natasha had a few feature defects pointing to a chromosome disorder and we were given a diagnosis very soon," Natalie said.

"We took Natasha to America in 2008 to get seizures under control and she was able to stand for a short period. She was developmentally progressing but then her health started to deteriorate."

As a result, the child has never been able to walk but the Falls family is hopeful after 16 weeks of specialist therapy she will be able to "stand independently and walk suspended on a treadmill".

Natalie described her eldest child as "a happy wee girl no matter what she has been through".

"She is so determined and has achieved so much in her life," she added.

The family have a series of events planned throughout June, including a Wear Yellow to School Day on June 20. For more information on how to get involved in events, people are urged to visit www.natashafalls.co.uk

They also hope the chiefs at Belfast City Council will agree to City Hall's lighting system being illuminated yellow.

Natalie added: "We have just launched the campaign and have received £500 on the Justgiving site so far. Hopefully the public will support the campaign.

"It would mean absolutely everything to us."

Background

Natasha Falls from Ballygowan has chromosome disorder 18q- and Pitt-Hopkins syndrome which has left her unable to walk. Her family would like the public to support 'Natasha's Journey of Hope' by taking part in events, fundraising or making a donation. To contribute to Natasha's treatment fund text NATA55 then the amount £1, £5, £10 to 70070 or visit justgiving.com/natashasjourney.

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