Lucky Fin Weekend Reflections 2023
“Mommy, I want to go see the pink table!” The little girl tugged on her mother’s arm.
This past weekend, people of all ages with upper limb differences traveled to Troy, Michigan from all over the country (and even Canada and Mexico!) to participate in the Lucky Fin Project annual picnic. As an adult with a congenital hand difference (one full hand and the other with a thumb and 3 “nubbins”) who didn’t have this experience as a child, seeing the Lucky Fin children embracing their true, beautiful selves brings me such joy: watching them laugh, play, run around, and do what children do when they are free from fear of comments, stares, and questions.
As a pediatric occupational therapist (OT), being able to showcase adaptive products and practical strategies with my limb difference community helps to start conversations and connect with one another. Specifically, OTs encourage using the “lucky fin” side (one or both) during activities to reduce strain to the dominant side, decreasing the likelihood of “overuse syndrome.”
At this year’s picnic, I demonstrated EazyHold‘s stretchy silicone straps (also known as “universal cuffs”), which come in a rainbow of bright colors and sizes. Splayed out across the bright bubblegum pink tablecloth were an assemblage of jump ropes, eating utensils, musical instruments, and self care products – all outfitted with the straps.
For some children, using the straps enables them not just to use their Lucky Fins to grasp objects, but also to use both hands simultaneously. Although the pink tablecloth might have captivated the little girl, the ability to try jumping rope for the first time and the encouragement from others kept her there.
Every time I participate in one of these weekends, I am changed forever. A part of me unfreezes and I grow more into the person I am meant to be, internalizing a deeper sense of belonging. I meet extraordinary people who just “get it”, and I feel hopeful about a future inclusive society. Spending a weekend in real life connecting with people who experience life as I do is truly magical.
The hardest part is always leaving. I watched children and parents who, like me, didn’t want to say goodbye. Finding a place where you are accepted unconditionally, without judgment, is both beautiful and rare. I will never take for granted belonging to a community not in spite of my physical differences, but because of them.
I am so grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make this incredible weekend possible! Special thanks to Molly Stapelman, Ruth Rathblott, Julie Sanders-Keymer; Jocelyn Hunt, Greg Kuechler, and Matt Trott, who helped with my display table; the families who came from far and wide; and all of the adults – with and without limb differences – who have embraced creating a spirited, welcoming community with such enthusiasm!
Learn more about EazyHold assistive grips.
Learn more about overuse syndrome in people with upper limb differences.
© 2023. Laura Faye Clubok, MS, OTR/L, On The Other Hand Therapy