"I want to do what I want to do. It's not that crazy, is it?"

'He almost goes to bed with his blade,' says mother Patricia van den Hurk. Son Jip (age 9) quickly responds, "No way! But, he must acknowledge: that's how much he likes his sports prosthesis. Playing soccer, playing in the schoolyard, running, walking; everything is easier with his blade.

Jip ended up with the Mentelity Foundation and prosthetist Frank Jol by chance. 'We saw an advertisement in the local weekly magazine of Uniek Sporten. They were looking for children with leg impairments who wanted to try a blade for six months,' says Patricia. 'Normally I always throw those papers away immediately, but I happened to flip through it once now.' Jip was born with fibula aplasia, had three toes, a slightly shorter leg and was missing his fibula. When he was a year and a half, it was decided that amputation was the best solution. From then on, he had leg prostheses. For a long time, these were ordinary, everyday prostheses, but the older Jip got, the more precisely the device restricted him. 

'I'm in handball,' he says. 'But I noticed that I couldn't keep up, I was just slower than everyone else. It was the same in the schoolyard: my friends were just faster than me. That was annoying. The sports prosthesis, the blade he was allowed to try, changes everything at once. Patricia: "On his blade, Jip is so much faster. He moves easier and therefore keeps it up longer.' The daily prosthesis he still has has been sitting unused in a corner ever since. 'I only put that on when we go to a party, for example; it's kind of my "Sunday leg." At school, I also just wear my blade. I can play soccer with that and play in the schoolyard. That square is pretty big and with my blade I get to the other side much faster.'

"I want to do what I want, that's not so crazy, right??"

That they found out by chance what is possible is something Patricia resents. 'Only through that advertisement did I see that more was also possible for us,' she says. 'We were not informed about this by our prosthetist at the time. We received the prosthesis by mail and if there was anything, we had to call. We often mentioned that Jip needed to be able to move more easily, but nothing was done about it. Only when we told there that we were going to switch to Frank Jol, suddenly everything was possible. But by then it was too late. How they look at him at Frank, how long they work with him - sometimes it's about millimeters, all the explanation and attention, the training; it's the whole package. Unfortunately we live near Eindhoven, otherwise we would be at Frank's (in Amsterdam, RW) much more often.'

With his sports prosthesis, Jip has now found his way to the athletic track, where he enjoys playing sports - without any problems. And even a school trip to the Efteling - row in, row out, lots of walking - is no problem, he says with a big smile. In addition to his sports prosthesis, Jip now wants his daily prosthesis from Frank. And if it's up to the 9-year-old, a swimming prosthesis, too. 'I do a lot of swimming training with Frank, so it would be nice if I could train with that. And I just want to be able to go into the pool when we're at Grandpa and Grandma's. Right now that's still difficult. I just want to do what I want, that's not so crazy, is it?

Text: Robin Wubben
Photos: Private