Ever since he was four years old, David Roberts has been spreading a message to his fellow classmates at his school in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and in the community- it one of playing safe and of resilience and acceptance. This summer David was able to spread this message to even more people from his seat on a War Amps float at the annual Natal Day parade in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. David was born with a partial hand -but it hasn't made him any different from his 10-year-old friends.
"There was never anything he couldn't do," his mother Susie Roberts said.
In fact David does quite a bit for someone his age. Apart from attending war amps seminars annually, he does presentations for his fellow students on war amps and spends much of his time playing sports. He plays all-star soccer and hockey and was invited to attend provincial soccer tryouts this summer. David is mature, well spoken and radiates a positive outlook.
He is comfortable talking about his hand and said he gets quite a few questions from other kids especially from those younger than him.
"I'm used to it now," he said.
His own classmates are also used to his partial hand but he said he still gets some questions every time he does a presentation. He doesn't mind and although sometimes the rare harsh comments bother him, he mostly shrugs them off and carries on with his busy childhood life.
Like nearly any boy his age, David likes playing video games and riding his bike-something his mother said she thought he'd never be able to do. Now, like any mother, she worries about how he rides his bike especially when she sees the way he and his friends often ride their bikes. Despite the special hand he was provided by the War Amps to help with bike riding, David said he prefers his own hand-in fact he prefers his own hand for most tasks-even hockey when he's playing for fun with his friends.
When David was born he was sent to the Janeway Hospital in St. John's where the War Amps (a non-for profit organization which helps child amputees) contacted his mother to help her with any questions she might have. They provided her with the contacts for a War Amps 'mother'-someone whose child had a similar partial limb from birth. They spent many hours on the phone and Mrs. Roberts learned more about the War Amps and kids with amputations and partial limbs. Along with helping with information, the War Amps pays the cost of David's annual seminars and check-ups at the Janeway. They also offer and provide special hands for any activity David is interested in pursuing.
David is only one of two children in Labrador that the family are aware of that have partial limbs. That makes trips like David’s summer trips helpful because he can speak to other kids with similar experiences and also learn more about new findings and technology. He also has a few friends that he met when he first started attending the seminars at age three or four that he is still maintained friendships with. The seminars are held in different cities in Atlantic Canada each year and the War Amps will supple a float for use in an annual parade each year as well. Only a few individuals are chosen to ride the float and this year David was chosen. He said he really enjoyed the experience and hopes to apply again next year.
Mrs. Roberts said she hopes they can eventually do more educational work in the community and bring more awareness to the group behind the signature key tags that arrive in mailboxes.