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Stephanie reads a copy of her book.
May 26, 2020

Donor’s estate gift provides books for young patients

A new donor-funded book is helping to educate ankle-foot orthoses (AFO) users at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre (RJCHC).

Beau and His New AFO: A Children’s Guide to Ankle Foot Orthoses was written by Stephanie Blunt and illustrated by Amelia Levick and Katrina Whitmell. The three collaborators are graduates of the Orthotic and Prosthetic technical program at George Brown College. They created this research-based book to teach young orthotic users and their caregivers about taking pride in their AFO and learning how to care for it.

“We noticed there was a lack of information and resources for pediatric AFO patients,” says Stephanie. “It’s important for children to see characters with AFOs and to learn how to take care of their devices. We decided that a children’s book was a great resource.”

An AFO is a device that supports and controls the position of the ankle and foot. AFOs are used to address functional deficits resulting from a physical or developmental issue. The device can help support the limb during activities of daily living.

“In the book, clinical information is embedded through rhymes,” says Stephanie. “Kids will learn things like the correct way to wear their AFO and how to clean it. We also hope patients will embrace seeing characters like themselves in the book.”

Stephanie holds a copy of her book and smiles for a photo.

Research-based book

Stephanie consulted with several clinicians, including the team at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), to develop the book.

“We recognize that the adjustment to an AFO can be challenging for patients and families,” says Brad Haardeng, the clinical manager of prosthetics & orthotics at HHS. “This book will help make the adjustment process as easy as possible for our patients and families.”

Staff at RJCHC were treated to a special book reading by Stephanie on February 28, 2020. Thanks to a generous estate gift to Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation from patient and volunteer Joyce Mattick, pediatric patients receiving an AFO will receive a copy of the book.

A donor’s legacy

Following a successful career as an elementary-school teacher, Joyce was a dedicated volunteer in the amputee rehabilitation, and prosthetics and orthotics programs at HHS. An amputee herself, Joyce led orientation tours to ease the anxiety of new amputee patients.

“She was brilliant, loving and caring,” says longtime friend Geri Frayne, who was present at the book reading. “She would have loved to have been involved with the creation of this book.”

Joyce worked tirelessly to educate new patients and students, provided clerical support, assisted with special events and volunteered as a care clown. Joyce passed away in 2014 following a battle with cancer. This book will help her legacy live on into the future.

“She was a dancer and loved to perform,” adds longtime friend Anne Schurter. “If she were here, she would have been up there with Stephanie reading this book to everyone.”