When it comes to convincing kids to be active, the trick is to find something they like. Sometimes that means a sport, or teaching them about the wonders of nature, or just forcing them out by turning off the video games.
For six-year-old Gianna Mantucca, it’s less of a challenge. She plays soccer, she’s on the swim team, she’s a developing gymnast. And that’s just a start of her activity. To say that she’s active is an understatement.
And she’s also doing this all on one leg.
“The ultrasound showed there were abnormalities,” says Devon Mantucca, Gianna’s mother. “But we didn’t know to what extent until after she was born.”
Gianna was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, a non-hereditary birth defect that, in this case, caused her left leg to develop slower than her right. The birth itself was a peaceful and joyous event because the family had gathered the knowledge that it wasn’t a life-threatening problem. “It was just… a limb,” Devon says. And so, sixteen months and plenty of doctors later, Gianna’s parents made the decision to amputate.
Six weeks after that, she took her first steps. And she’s rarely been off her feet since.
The problem with children and prosthetics, however, is the sudden growth spurts give them a particularly short span of usefulness. In Gianna’s six years, she’s gone through six different versions, ranging from essentially a chiseled block of wood to an advanced prosthetic with a full joint. But now, as the spurts start to slow down, it’s time for her first prosthetic covering.
And UNYQ was happy to step in.
“She saves it for getting dressed up,” Devon says of Gianna’s new UNYQ prosthetic cover. It gives her an added bout of confidence at dinner parties and other social events, a way to make her body whole so as to allow her clothes to fit better. “It’s a fashionable accessory that makes her feel very pretty.”
As far as the inspiration for the specific design of Gianna’s prosthetic covering, it comes from a trip the family took to Yosemite National Park. Gianna is, as mentioned, a big tree climber, someone who’ll start scaling as soon as she finds that first limb to hoist herself up with. So, when asked what she wanted on her UNYQ cover, her response wasn’t surprising:
“A woodland creature,” Gianna said.
With that as their inspiration, the team at UNYQ constructed a cover to perfectly address the desire. Gianna’s covering has a magenta pink base with gold leaves and, hanging on the back like Gianna from a branch, is that woodland creature she wanted: A rabbit.
“It’s very sweet,” says Devon.
It’s also an important way for Gianna to express herself. “It wasn’t until I was really in this community that I understand the leg is an extension of their body, and extension of who they are,” says Devon. With her prosthetic covering, Gianna can show off this spunky side of her without even saying a word. “People stare because it’s cool. She’s proud of it. It makes her proud to be special in a positive way, to show off her personality.”
It’s also an accessory Gianna can utilize when she wants to put that tomboy look on hold for a few hours. “You can see her little face shine when she has it on,” says Devon. “What little girl doesn’t want to play dress up?”