Balga: grass now greener for battler John after community helps with garden


Elizabeth Sturzaker and son John. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d456787
Elizabeth Sturzaker and son John. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        d456787

FROM nine months of age, John Sturzaker (13) has faced an uphill battle, with daily struggles with a rare type of epilepsy and intellectual disability.

John suffers from West syndrome and was previously unable to play in the garden of his Balga home. His family has now welcomed a newly paved garden.

Disability service provider Therapy Focus and project management company NS Projects worked on the garden for two days in June, following donations from the community.

John’s mother, Elizabeth, said her son could now easily go outside and play in the garden.

“John can go outside now. He has been inside with us most of the time and when we go outside, it is like ‘no you cannot come out because it is all dirt’ so he was kind of limited,” she said.

“They have made a little sensory wall where he can go out in his wheelchair, he can go and look at the garden and be outside and get some sun instead of being stuck inside.”

Ms Sturzaker said people around her son adjusted to his characteristics over time.

“He does ‘baby-babble’ more than anything but I suppose I have learnt all his cues and his carers as well have learnt what John wants and he is pretty verbal when he wants to,” she said.

“He cannot tell you exactly what he wants but you can kind of guess when he is not happy and when he is happy.

“He loves people – a couple of his carers have taken him to the beach when it is nice and sunny, he will walk along the beach and he is just a typical boy who looks at the girls and checks them out.”

Ms Sturzaker said John, who attended Gladys Newton School in Balga, experienced seizures daily and took a large amount of medication for it.

“He has got better because some days he is doing pretty well if he has two or three seizures; it is good – we have a mixture of absence seizures compared to bioclimatic seizures,” she said.

She said her family felt like “royalty” after the bulk of the garden was completed and the remaining section would be finished in the coming weeks.