While most little girls dream of being a flower girl at a wedding, walking down the aisle for her aunt’s wedding seemed beyond the reach of four-year-old Isabella Lucket, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
But a new invention – a harness sewed into her dress and attached to her father – enabled Isabella to step down the aisle at St Nicholas Church in Wilden, Bedfordshire, last Saturday and even allowed her to dance at the reception.
The harness, called the Upsee, was invented by Debby Elnatan, a mother who wanted to give her wheelchair-bound son Rotem, who also has cerebral palsy, a chance to walk. Her design, which promises to improve the lives for disabled children across the world, was launched last month.
Isabella was only two when she was asked to be a flower girl at her aunt Louise Luckett’s wedding to Jonathan Heathcote-Curtis. The family hoped Isabella would be taking a few steps by the time of the wedding, but cerebral palsy has left her legs undeveloped, reports the Daily Mail. Then Isabella’s parents Gary and Natalie Luckett, both 29, heard about the Upsee.
Gary contacted the company and was able to get an Upsee made especially for Isabella in time for the wedding.
“Bella’s very shy but she told me she feels like a princess, like Cinderella,” said her mother Natalie.
“It was so much easier to use than we anticipated, it really was so much easier than we thought and Bella took to it straight away.
“She is such a happy little girl and you can see from her smile and from the pictures she did so well.”
Louise, the bride, said: “We hoped that Bella would be able to take a few steps down the aisle by herself but unfortunately it seems as though she isn’t going to walk independently at the moment.
“Gary had his heart set on walking down the aisle with Bella and as soon as we saw the Upsee advertised he was on a mission to find one.
“I didn’t mind if Bella was carried or walks down the aisle but I was really excited for her to be there.”
Elnata, a music therapist originally from Jerusalem, Israel launched her revolutionary invention through Northern Ireland-based manufacturer Leckey, which has a track record of producing equipment for children with special needs. After successful trials in the UK, US and Canada, the Firefly Upsee has been released worldwide
“It is wonderful to see this product available to families across the world. When my son was two years old, I was told by medical professionals that he didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them,” she told the Independent.
“That was an incredibly difficult thing for a mother to hear. I started to walk him day after day, which was a very strenuous task for both of us. Out of my pain and desperation came the idea for the Upsee and I’m delighted to see it come to fruition.”
A team of designers, engineers, textile experts and therapists have been working on the project since 2012.
The Upsee allows infants and small children to stand and achieve repetitive walking training with the help of an adult. The invention consists of a harness for the child, which attaches to a belt worn by the adult, and specially-designed sandals that allow the parent and child to step simultaneously.
For more information, visit the Firefly website.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”