Georgiana's Special Trike
Say hello to Georgiana and her red trike! AFK funded a trike for Georgiana last year to help her grow stronger and explore more independently with her family. A few months after she received the trike, her mum got in touch to give us the loveliest of feedback. She said:
'The trike has been so beneficial for Georgiana’s physical development. She gains so much benefit from pushing the pedals to help strengthen her legs and core. The psychological benefits of her having the trike is outstanding. She has such a sense of pride and confidence when she can move independently on her bike. She can keep up with her peeps and her favourite activity is riding her bike to the park. We have had countless fun and laughs and have shared real quality family time cycling. It has brought so much fun and bonding to our family. We have taken her places we would have never gone in the pram – across fields, through woods, up hills. The fun and health benefits have been life changing. Both my partner and I are keen cyclists and being able to attach the trike onto the back of ours has been and continues to be fabulous. Due to one of us finishing work to care for Georgiana, we would not have been able to afford the trike and are therefore so eternally grateful for your kind donation. Once again thank you from the bottom of our hearts.’
And just a few weeks ago, Georgiana's mum got in touch again with some more incredible news: 'One of mine and Georgiana’s favourite things to do it get out in the fresh air, into the woods and exploring nature. It’s great for both of our health and well-being. Georgiana is now strong enough to peddle her bike without the leg braces and can sit without the back and side supports. She is so proud of her riding skills and we are loving getting out on the bike again.'
Not only are specialist trikes very important for building confidence, independence, and mental well-being in disabled children and young people's lives, but they also have incredible physical health benefits. Within less than a year, Georgiana has built up strength in her legs and can cycle even further and with less support than when she first received her trike. Go Georgiana!!
Kat's Dream Chair
Kat is a 21-year-old woman from Bradford. She is a social media influencer, vlogger and disability activist, developing an online presence through work experience within the media industry over the years. She released a short film with the help of Fixers UK in 2017 which talked about the stigmatisation of disability and the dos and don’ts when it comes to interacting with disabled people.
Kat has Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2. SMA causes progressive muscle weakness and loss of movement due to muscle wasting. This causes joint pain, absence of tendon reflexes, extreme tiredness, and much more. Without the correct equipment, general life and tasks would be a struggle for Kat, if not impossible.
She applied to my AFK for funding for a Paravan P30 II powered wheelchair. An assessment revealed this to be the perfect chair for her as the P30 II has a tilt and stand function, which will enable her to reposition without the help of a carer. The chair also has suitable postural support for her compromised posture, making it comfortable for her to sit in it for longer than she can in her current chair.
Kat’s chair was delivered in January. She got in touch to say: ‘the chair is WONDERFUL! I’ve actually named her Dream. Matt successfully delivered her this morning and after some measuring and adjustments, I had my Cinderella moment and she fits like a glove. I couldn’t of asked for a better chair. Dream is so sassy and stylish, she’s everything I dreamed of and more. There’s nothing this chair can’t do. I’m so much comfier and she has given me so much independence. I don’t think I’ve stood still these last few days. I shall attach photos at the bottom of this email. Thank you for all your help, this means the world to me.’
You are so welcome Kat! Thank YOU for all you do for those with disabilities by being such an inspiring speaker and activist!
Two Wheelchairs in One - Our Amazing Ambassador's Story
One of our beneficiaries and now ambassador, Jamie, has written a blog post talking about his life experiences and his experience with my AFK. We are very glad to have been able to offer any help or support throughout the process and are extremely grateful to hear such lovely feedback from him. So we thought we would share because he says it best:
As I was preparing to start my masters degree in German and Italian in 2016, I reflected on how much had changed in the last few years. I’d done a degree, lived away from home for the first time and even completed my year abroad in the trilingual province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. One thing which hadn’t changed, however, was my wheelchair. I’d had my trusty manual wheelchair since I was 16 and just about to start sixth form in the autumn of 2010. It had done very well but was definitely showing its age. The paint was peeling off, I couldn’t push properly without catching my hands on the brakes and self-propelling over hilly terrain was impossible. In other words, it was definitely time for a change.
My first port of call was my local NHS wheelchair service, albeit more in hope than expectation as they had been unable to provide me with a lightweight wheelchair in the past. I was initially really excited about getting a new wheelchair for the first time in years but the first and only appointment I attended quickly dampened any enthusiasm I had. I was asked hardly any questions about what I was looking for and the conversation immediately focused on what the wheelchair services could afford rather what kind of wheelchair would best suit my needs. I didn’t think it was possible for the appointment to get worse. I was wrong. The wheelchair services then said that if they provided me with a manual wheelchair then I would have to return the powered wheelchair they’d provided me with a few years previously. I explained how my life at university meant that I needed both the flexibility offered by a manual wheelchair and the security of having powered wheelchair in situations where I was unable to self propel. However, it made no difference and I started to look at alternative options.
Fast forward a few months to spring 2018 and I thought I’d found the perfect solution. I’d discovered a lightweight chair called the Küschall Champion SK which, crucially, was foldable so could fit into the back of a car. I’d also discovered the SmartDrive - a detachable power attachment which can be fixed onto the back of a manual wheelchair. I was convinced that I’d found the perfect solution. There was only one problem - I didn’t have any funding. This is where my AFK came in. I did some research into charities that might be able to help and my AFK leapt out straight away. As soon as I rang them, I knew they understood my needs and why two wheelchairs were absolutely necessary for me to be as independent as possible. I was asked about my life and why this particular wheelchair was important. It was immediately obvious that my AFK were treating me as an individual with individual requirements. I was talked through the application process and a few weeks later I got some surprising but brilliant news - I’d got funding for my dream wheelchair! I was feeling a bit anxious about an upcoming operation at the time so being able to collect my wheelchair a couple of days before my surgery was a great boost.
The SmartDrive increased my independence immediately. I’m currently in the second year of PhD in German and Italian at Oxford University. As part of my research I need to travel to South Tyrol, which is beautiful but also very mountainous. The SmartDrive will be ideal for allowing me to get around independently, something which would have been impossible with my old wheelchair.