FALL RIVER: Emma Archibald looks at her disability differently than most would.
Archibald, of Fall River, was born missing part of her hands and part of her feet as a result of Amniotic band syndrome but the young woman isn’t letting that deter her. The 16-year-old is using it as a teaching moment for other War Amps children amputees. She does this by attending conferences such as the recently held 2019 Atlantic Child Amputee (CHAMP) Seminar in Fredericton.
“I don’t think of it as a disability because I have learned to adapt and don’t know any different. I think my biggest challenge was other people adapting to it,” said Emma in an interview with The Laker. “People are usually curious and I’m happy to answer their questions because I would be too. But if people choose not to accept it, then I learned and still am learning that I shouldn’t try to hide my difference but to embrace and live my life without worrying what other people think.”
Emma attended seminars to see the latest developments in artificial limbs and attend informative sessions on dealing with amputation. She applied to be a Junior Counsellor so that she could give back by answering questions and offering advice to younger Champs. At the seminar in Fredericton, Emma encouraged other Champs to embrace their amputation and overcome hurdles on the road to independence. It was her eleventh year attending.
“My favourite part about the seminars is that you get to meet so many new people and form long lasting friendships,” said Emma. “These seminars are very friendly and informal and are held from Friday to Sunday with many sessions that allow opportunities to share advice, learn about latest developments with artificial limbs, and programs.
“As a junior counsellor, we go a day early before the families come to prepare and have training sessions where we learn more about the background of the organization and how to run sessions.”
She applied to be a Junior counsellor with the war amps because it’s a way for me to give back because they have been such a big part of my life.
Emma, who plays basketball; competes in track and field and plays flag football, said she even forgets at times that she’s missing some fingers and toes.
“It hasn’t stopped me at all from doing things such as sport,” she said. “There are some rough days but everyone has those and I’m extremely lucky to have such amazing friends, family and the War Amps there to support me.
She has a message for others in similar situation as her.
“You are who you are and you can’t change so learn to embrace it by maintaining a positive attitude,” said Emma. “Once you accept it, then other people will be more accepting of it.”