The Fighting Irish Martins is run by Michelle Martin, a Surrey, BC mom to twin boys, Axel and Jaxon, who both have cerebral palsy due to premature birth and a rare and severe condition during pregnancy called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. By day, I mom my amazing dudes 24/7, and work as a freelance B2B marketing copywriter by night. I also write a lot on my blog and Instagram, and make this store happen in my "spare time." (What is that, anyway? 😜)
I create fun (I hope?) mugs, clothing and other gift items with the hope of brightening your day, and to make a difference. I am passionate about raising awareness of cerebral palsy, and also advocating that our public health system does NOT support our kids the way it should. Private therapy is amazing and so beneficial to our kids, but out of financial reach for many families.
For that reason, and the kindness we have been shown to date, 20% of profits from all orders are donated to fund private physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy for Canadian children who have Cerebral Palsy!
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is "a term used to describe a group of disorders affecting body movement and muscle coordination." (from BC Cerebral Palsy) CP affects each person differently, but it usually includes some form of motor impairment, and can include problems with vision, hearing, swallowing, speaking and more.
There are many types of CP and it affects about 1 in 500 people, on a spectrum from mild to severe in terms of its effects on a person's life and mobility.
CP is considered "non-progressive" because it is due to brain damage (usually before or during the birth process from complications). However, as parents of kids with CP will tell you, it SEEMS like it's progressive because without constant intervention with physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, stretching, muscle relaxants (sometimes) and surgery (sometimes)... kids can lose the skills they have worked so hard for.
And, for some children, without intensive therapies, they may never achieve skills that they're capable of.
Now - this is my personal opinion - but I do not believe the Canadian health system does enough for kids with CP. Many publicly-funded programs have endless wait lists when study after study has proven EARLY and INTENSIVE intervention is the key to maximizing a child's learning, motor and other milestones.
As an example, though it is not true of all people, my twins received 30 minutes of physiotherapy once a month from the public system. RIDICULOUS.
Seeking private therapy was something we realized was not optional after about a year (I wish we had discovered private options even existed before that!). We swallowed our pride to fundraise and accept gifts from others (not easy for us) to afford these therapies, and also refinanced our home, and spent over $50,000 in 2019 alone on physiotherapy, travel to specialists, equipment and other costs directly related to the boys' cerebral palsy.
(An example of a piece of equipment we had to buy -- about $6500 new but we were lucky to find it MUUUCH cheaper used from another amazing family. :)
There is little to no funding in the public system to get kids what they need to not just live, but THRIVE. To actually participate in society and not just be accommodated, but be COMFORTABLE and included.
Our Therapy Sponsorship Program!
Partial proceeds of ALL sales go into a separate account, and when that account reaches $1,000, I will be awarding a therapy sponsorship to a Canadian family seeking private physio or occupational therapy for their child with CP!
I'm so excited! I calculated this number based on the average therapy-only cost (not including travel expenses) of a 1 week therapy intensive program (2hrs a day for 5 business days).
(A capture from a recent CME/MEDEK intensive we did with the boys - the amazing SMILE Therapy for Kids team.)
I've just launched the store so it's not ready yet but once the first scholarship is ready, I will post the recipient here and a bit about them (only if a family so chooses to share, otherwise grants will remain anonymous!).
I'm not sure how to do applications for this yet! lol. I will share more here and on Instagram once I almost have enough for the first grant so we can get it rolling! I am SO EXCITED!
We have been the recipients of so much kindness - and yes, MONEY - to get our boys the therapy they need and I have wanted to give back for awhile.
For me, this store is a creative outlet and fun project and finally a way to give back to other families in a meaningful way.
I hope you'll join me in this mission by either making a purchase or sharing my products/website on your social media or with friends!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!