“We are hugely grateful for this new powered wheelchair, it has already made a difference to our lives as a family”
For Saskia, 19, receiving a Whizz-Kidz powered wheelchair meant she could gain independence after almost 10 years of being pushed around by someone else.
Saskia’s parents had been keen to see their daughter gain more choice in life, but she had been held back by her old wheelchair.
The previous wheelchair had been a manual one, making it too difficult for Saskia to self-propel.
Saskia’s mum Stephanie says: “You just can’t develop independence if other people are always steering you around - you’re limited.
“That’s why we were keen for Saskia to be in control, rather than the person pushing her.”
Thankfully this all changed when Saskia received her first Whizz-Kidz powered wheelchair.
Stephanie says: “Since she has had her new wheelchair, I have seen a change in Saskia’s confidence, although of course it’s a gradual process.
“Saskia was steered and pushed around by someone for almost 10 years until she got this new wheelchair.
“She’s becoming more confident in choosing which way to go when we’re out – it’s a new skill she’s developing.”
Since receiving a wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz, Saskia and her family have been able to enjoy long coastal walks in their Cumbria hometown, which would have been too hilly for the old manual wheelchair.
It also means shopping-lover Saskia has more independence in going to the shops she wants to go to – rather than the ones dad Douglas wants to look in.
But the powered wheelchair hasn’t just had a positive impact for Saskia, it also means parents Stephanie and Douglas are once again able to hold hands.
Stephanie says: “It’s a lovely feeling. You don’t think about it when you see people in wheelchairs and somebody’s pushing someone - that you can’t hold hands, but you can’t.
“Before, not being able to do this, sometimes it made us feel sad, and then guilty.
“We’ve been married for 25 years and it’s a little thing, but it has been really lovely for Douglas and I to be able to do this, with Saskia leading the way out in front.”
Stephanie adds: “We are hugely grateful for this new powered wheelchair, it has already made a difference to our lives as a family.
“In the future, we hope it will continue encouraging Saskia to be more confident and live more independently into her adult life.”
Settling into the New Year: Jusuf and his newfound independence
Jusuf, 10, is the youngest of three children and lives with his family in Maida Vale. When he was only five days old, he started having seizures and the doctors diagnosed him with a severe case of epilepsy. Having epilepsy and global developmental delay, unfortunately, means for Jusuf that we cannot walk or speak.
Two years ago Jusuf got a wheelchair from the NHS, however, his new wheelchair was bulky and uncomfortable, it would not fit in the family car and it was not practical for his daily routine in school. This is why his therapist recommended the family to get in touch with Whizz-Kidz.
After an initial phone call, the family applied for a buggy. Whizz-Kidz’s therapist John went to Jusuf’s school for the handover and his sister also joined this very special moment. Whizz-Kidz was able to provide Jusuf with a light, well-fitting buggy.
His Mum, Shenaj said “Jusuf seems happier as he can now take part in family walks, he loves being outside especially after such a difficult year. We spent hours in the park during lockdown and he absolutely loves it!”
Jusuf uses his buggy to go to school every day in the bus, and to go shopping with his parents. It has had a great impact for him. “I would recommend to other families to go for it and get in touch with Whizz-Kidz as it has made such a difference for us! We are hoping to apply again when he grows up and it’s great to see that Whizz-Kidz will be able to support us again in the future”
Carmela and Her Pup, Tinker: A New Found Independence
Carmela is a six-year-old little girl who lives with her parents and a black toy poodle called Tinker in Wiltshire.
As Carmela was growing up, her parents realized that she was having trouble walking and sitting without support. After several assessments she received a diagnosis at the age of three: Carmela had LMNA- related congenital muscular dystrophy, a rare and progressive condition.
This condition means that unfortunately, she cannot walk unaided for more than 5 minutes as her muscles are weak. Carmela has a very bubbly personality but she was missing out of family walks and other social opportunities.
After the diagnosis, Carmela’s mum, Lucy, said “This is out of my hands but there must be something I can do. The doctors told me the only thing I could do was to keep Carmela as fit as possible for as long as possible. And this is exactly what mummy did”.
Lucy first heard from Whizz-Kidz from their occupational therapist. Carmela already had a powered wheelchair so they decided to apply for a trike. Trikes are important pieces of equipment not only for the playful element, but also because there are a great alternative to painful physiotherapy sessions. “To do half an hour a day of physiotherapy is boring for an adult, imagine for a six-year-old girl!”
After a few phone assessments, Whizz-Kidz was able to provide Carmela with a shiny new trike. She even got to pick the colour: bright pink! Lucy said “The trike is a vital piece of equipment for physical therapy. Carmela’s condition requires that she has to be very active and the trike is just perfect for that, we use it at least twice a week. It’s also easier for us to use it for short distances, instead of her powered wheelchair”.
The family tried to train Tinker to be an assistant dog but she didn’t obey the rules as she loves a cuddle and barking (as any toy poodle does!). However, she has proven to be a great friend for Carmela and a lovely addition to the family. “Carmela really enjoys going on rides around the neighbourhood with her dog and it has made her feel more independent”
“Having a piece for equipment for playing could change their lives forever looking forward because it provides emotional well-being, confidence and helps reduce social anxiety as it enables disabled children to take part in more activities”
We would love to give more small businesses the chance to support children like Carmela, and the chance to transform the lives of young wheelchair users to help them to gain independence, confidence and aspiration to be able to explore the world around them. Just as every child deserves to.