By James Williamson
Meet Heather Barcham and her new pet rabbit, Flopsy. Heather, a 35 year old mother of three, acquired a brain injury in 2008. After a difficult start in intensive care, she has made steady progress over the last seven years through her own motivation and hard work, helped along by support from her family, friends, carers, and the JMB Foundation.
Last year JMB was pleased to be able to provide funding to enable Heather to participate in Wesley Mission’s animal therapy program at Myuna Farm at Doveton in Melbourne’s south-east. The program is proving to be popular and effective for people with disability, including those with an ABI like Heather. Participation helps to improve their lives in tangible ways, encouraging physical movement and stimulating cognitive functions including memory, emotions and speech, and providing all-important social interaction.
Flopsy is a gift from a carer, and Heather has become very attached to him. With Flopsy calmly nestled in her arms, his nose twitching away contentedly, Heather, too, is calm and all smiles. It’s clear that her new pet is a big hit. When she’s at Myuna Farm Heather has a chance to interact with more rabbits and other animals, including deer, alpacas and goats, which are on her favourites list.
Heather’s husband Steven Barcham believes her participation in the farm therapy program and the physical contact with animals has given Heather new confidence.
“During her Tuesday visits to Myuna Farm Heather mixes with a large group, many of whom are unable to speak”, Steven said. “The program has given her a big boost in morale because she has found new confidence in her ability to communicate with others in the program and with her carers.
“Frankly, if it weren’t for JMB’s support, Heather’s progress would not have been as strong. Now, with the help of farm therapy and dedicated carers, Heather is more motivated, happy and confident than she’s been for a long time.”
These days, Heather happily waits for an hour at the gate for her ride to Myuna Farm. A few years ago Heather could not have managed petting farm animals and socialising with others in the therapy group. On arriving home she now goes straight to the rabbit hutch where Flopsy lives a pampered life. It seems that Flopsy is Heather’s fourth – and arguably most cuddly – child.
“I’m thrilled that Heather, with all the support she enjoys, has through her strong will and motivation met the great challenges she’s had to face since her ABI”, Steven said. “She never ceases to amaze me, every single day.
“JMB enables people with an ABI like Heather to take part in programs such as farm therapy, and importantly, to achieve a better overall quality of life.”
Without the funding assistance that JMB has been able to provide for Heather, her transport to Myuna Farm and attendant care during her visits would not be possible. We are delighted to know that we’ve been able to contribute to Heather’s enjoyment of life in this way, and we are very conscious that we could not have done this without the generous support of our donors and fundraisers. We hope you agree that Heather’s story demonstrates the positive difference that gifts to JMB can make.