Julia Derksen of Abbotsford recently attended the War Amps BC Child Amputee seminar in Victoria. (Brian Dennehy Photography)

Julia Derksen of Abbotsford recently attended the War Amps BC Child Amputee seminar in Victoria. (Brian Dennehy Photography)

Local ‘Champ’ attends War Amps seminar in Victoria

Julie Derksen, 16, serves as junior counsellor at recent event

Julia Derksen, 16, of Abbotsford recently attended the War Amps 2018 BC Child Amputee (CHAMP) Seminar in Victoria.

The seminar brought together child amputees from across the province while also marking the 100th anniversary of The War Amps.

Julia is a left-leg amputee due to cancer and, as a “Champ,” is eligible to receive financial assistance for the cost of artificial limbs and recreational devices.

By attending seminars, Champs and parents learn about the latest in artificial limbs, dealing with teasing and bullying, and parenting an amputee child.

Julia was a junior counsellor at the seminar, acting as a role model and offering advice to the younger Champs.

The War Amps was started by amputee veterans returning from the First World War to help each other adapt to their new reality and advocate for seriously disabled veterans.

With a philosophy of “amputees helping amputees,” they welcomed the next generation of war amputees following the Second World War and established the Key Tag Service to gain meaningful employment and provide a service to the public.

Later, recognizing that their experience could help others, they developed programs to serve all amputees, including children.

Danita Chisholm, executive director of the CHAMP program, says the public’s support of the Key Tag and Address Label Service ensures vital programs for amputees will carry on long into the future.

“Although the association has developed many innovative and unique programs over the past 100 years, there is still much to do to ensure amputees, like Julia, have the artificial limbs they need to lead full and active lives,” she said.