For eight-year-old Anastacia Chirkoff and her sister Zaria, six, nothing comes easy.
Born with a rare disorder called pontocerebellar hypoplasia type 2, the sisters are confined to wheelchairs and are unable to talk, stand or sit unsupported.
But when they are in the water everything changes.
Thanks to the Children’s Wish Foundation Canada, Arctic Spas and many local businesses who donated their time, equipment and supplies the Chirkoff family have a brand new swim spa in their backyard.
“They have very sore muscles a lot of the time and the warm water helps relieve that and helps them do things that they couldn’t do on dry land,” said their mom, Cathy Chirkoff. “They just thrive in the water.”
With the help of a neck ring and nurse Andrea Gough, Anastacia lays back and floats weightless in the warm water with the sunshine on her face.
“It gives her so much freedom of movement, she loves to do anything physical,” said Cathy.
The girls have been going to the recreation centre pool twice a week, but because their disorder makes them sensitive to loud noises and their bodies have a hard time regulating temperature, having their own large spa where they can control the environment, is life-changing for the family.
“Sometimes sensory things bother them like loud noises at places like the rec centre, even though they do go there, sometimes there are days they can’t cope with that as well, so having something at home is so wonderful for us and wonderful for them when they are really struggling,” said Cathy.
When Cathy carries her youngest daughter Zaria into the water her excitement is palpable.
Her arms start moving, her legs kick back and forth as her mom holds her with a smile on her face.
“For us as a family to be able to do something like this at home is so great,” said Cathy.
The swim spa, roughly twice the size of a standard spa, is a great physiotherapy tool for the Chirkoffs, as well as a fun activity for the girls to do with their friends and family.
The local business community came together to make their wish come true. Farrer Rental, M&K Ready Mix, Action Concrete Pumping, Andy Buick Construction, Armstrong Crane, JB Electric and Arctic Spas all donated to the project.
“We are a very family-oriented business. We all have healthy kids and helping one family who is not so lucky makes our day,” said Perry Lewis, owner of Arctic Spas Factory Superstore in Kelowna.