A girl who was born with a long list of conditions and disabilities has found a new lease of life thanks to a Gosforth charity – after they bought her swimming lessons.
Eva Pienaar, 7, was born with Pierre-Robin Syndrome – which caused her to be born with a set-back jaw, a hole in her heart and severe hearing difficulties and communication problems, among other issues.
Eva, who has undergone multiple surgeries and spent a lot of time in hospital seeing specialists, has always struggled with confidence and feeling ‘normal’, so Mum Kerry took it upon herself to find an activity to bring her out of her shell.
After being told by Eva she wanted to try swimming, Kerry contacted Smile For Life Children’s Charity, who offered to fund six months of lessons for the Holystone Primary School pupil.
Kerry, from West Allotment, said: “I was desperate to find something active for her to do, and she mentioned she’d like to try out swimming.
“I contacted Smile for Life who agreed to fund lessons with Splash In Swim School, and they have had an amazing effect.
“She has anxiety issues so finding something that she enjoys and is able to do has been absolutely life-changing for her.
“Being able to do something that her peers can do has given her so much more confidence and happiness. Now she can do something that other children can do too.
“I am so grateful to Smile For Life for supporting us and paying for the lessons – they’ve made such a difference. It really is amazing, so thank you.
Pierre-Robin Syndrome, also known as Pierre Robin Sequence, is very rare, and often results in a cleft palate and a small lower jaw which causes throat and breathing difficulties, though symptoms can vary.
After mum-of-two Kerry applied successfully to the charity to help Eva, Smile For Life’s chief executive Paula Gascoigne went to watch one of her lessons at Beacon Hill School in Wallsend.
Paula said: “As a charity we get a lot of different requests with many of these being for equipment to help with a child’s communication and things like that but this was a very different request to give Eva a skill that will last her a lifetime.
“It is also about rehabilitation as she has spent so much time in hospital and so this will also help her build confidence and mix with her peers. We hope learning to swim will help make her feel good about herself.
“This is something that will be with her for the rest of her life and will enable her to enjoy lots of wonderful time in the swimming pool with friends and family.”
To find out more about Smile For Life, head to www.smileforlife.org.uk, search @SmileForLifeNE on social media or call 0191 284 4166.