It all started in 2005 when a U.S. Army Doctor, David Brown, was helping kids in the city of Mosul and asked Brad for help finding wheelchairs, because proper fitting wheelchairs for children were non-existent in Iraq. Brad Blauser, working on the military base as a civilian, asked his family and friends in the U.S. for help, and the response was overwhelming. The Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids project was born.
Different military units came and went over the years, but Brad stayed in Iraq working to help children get their first wheelchairs until the troops left in December, 2011. In seven years, going out with troops on 56 distributions, 985 Iraqi children with severe disabilities were lifted off the ground as their lives were made more comfortable, and some lives were literally saved. In 2012, Brad returned alone to the safer Kurdish region in the North to continue the important work helping 360 more children receive the wheelchairs they needed So far, 1345 Iraqi children have been helped. In 2009, Brad was nominated as a top CNN Hero.
In 2014, the first official Wheelchairs for Kids International mission happened in March with a trip to Guatemala, helping forty-four children receive their first wheelchairs. In October 2014, another mission provided thirty more adjustable pediatric wheelchairs to children with disabilities. Currently, our Guatemala missions entail:
- Training for the parents on the mechanics of the wheelchair
- Travel training
- Dental screenings
- First aid and
- Fine and gross motor activities with a physical therapist
- Oral-motor exercises with a speech therapist
- Educating children with disabilities and their families about disability rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Donations are needed to buy more proper fitting pediatric wheelchairs for delivery to children not only in Iraq but to other developing nations around the world. Please consider giving generously as there are millions of children who desperately need supportive pediatric wheelchairs. Their lives are in our hands. Will you help?
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