RVA Parenting: CATS program helps get therapy equipment for children with disabilities

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Filing anything with insurance can be a pain. For parents of children with disabilities, it's a constant battle of trying to get therapy equipment that could make life better for their kids.

The harsh reality is, sometimes they wait months to get it. Sometimes they get denied all together. One local organization is changing all of that.

Evan has to work a little bit harder than most kids to walk, stand or even sit up, because the 4-year-old faces some extra challenges. But he's awfully cute, and he is the heart of his family.

"Evan is the happiest kid you'll ever meet," said Erika Jenkins, Evan's mom.

All the love you find in their house drives Evan's parents to make sure he has all the right opportunities and tools to meet those challenges and to succeed.

"With insurance and stuff, we've had some issues with things being denied or it's taken him a long time to be approved by insurance," explained Erika. "You'll figure out a way, but it shouldn't be that hard to help your child grow and be strong."

For parents of kids with disabilities, it's a familiar story...until now.

There are already two official chapters of CATS - or Children's Assistive Technology Services in Virginia. One more chapter is in the process of forming in Richmond.

Their services are changing life for these children.

"With CATS, we were able to get a couple pieces of equipment to help him therapeutically without having to wait six to nine months to even get the piece," explained Erika. "Or to even hear if we've been approved or denied."

Those pieces came in days. Erika is helping launch the effort to get CATS fully functioning in Richmond.

The organization collects gently-used or outgrown pieces of equipment for kids with disabilities. They scrub them down and redistribute them to homes where they are needed.

For Evan, it's made all the difference.

"It's because of these little pieces of equipment that give him support and stability that for him to kind of learn, teeter and play with his boundaries of being able to do things on his own," said Erika.

CATS is a no-cost resource. The organization lists inventory on its website and asks that parents just make sure any adaptive equipment be adjusted by a therapist so it can be used properly.

For this organization to be fully functioning in Richmond, they don't need much. Funding always helps them with their mission, but a climate-controlled place to store the items would allow them to store the cleaned donations safely, making it that much easier to get these tools to local families.

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