After months of sleeping in her family’s living room and showering at a local pool, an Edmonton-area girl who uses a wheelchair is celebrating the accessible makeover of her home — all completed free of charge.
With the help of a newly installed chairlift, Hailey Cheng, 12, went up the stairs of her family’s Sherwood Park home for the first time in months on Monday, marking the completion of wheelchair-friendly renovations.
“Now I can get around more,” Cheng said. “I can actually sleep in my room after seven months.”
Last summer, the then-11-year-old was hiking with family in Kananaskis County when she took a bad step and went over the waterfall.
Hailey suffered a severed spinal cord, had a secondary compression fracture on a vertebrae, a severe head fracture on the back of her skull, a collapsed left lung and a partially collapsed right lung.
She pulled through the accident, but the spinal cord injury means she now uses a wheelchair.
“It’s a two-storey house. Having to get her up and down the stairs was complicated — not safe either,” said her father, David Cheng.
The home is now wheelchair accessible, thanks to volunteers organized by Alair Homes’ Edmonton team. They met the family through a Gofundme page set up by a neighbour to pay for home renovations.
The group installed a chairlift and new flooring upstairs. They also renovated the bathroom, which was previously too small to accommodate wheelchairs.
“It was a challenge. It was some late hours for some of these guys but it came together.”
Alair Homes and the volunteers covered all costs, McGavigan said.
For Cheng, the renovations mean greater dignity and independence: she no longer has to sleep downstairs on a bed in the living room blocked off by a screen, or shower at a community pool.
“Usually, I would go once or twice a week. Now I can go more,” she said, adding that being able to go upstairs to her bedroom is a relief. “I can’t sleep in light, so sometimes I can’t sleep downstairs.”
The family is grateful for the help, which leaves them better able to live their changed lives.
“There’s no words. Everyone associated with this — thank you for helping Hailey,” her father said.
“Thank you for giving our family our normalcy.”