Kai Shah from Potters Bar is a typical teen who loves to sleep, play football and spend hours on his PlayStation; but as he was born with Muscular Dystrophy he has never crawled, stood up or walked. Having a powered wheelchair means he can be as independent as possible and gives him the freedom to do the activities he loves – but when he outgrew it, life became very restrictive.
Mum Sonia Shah said: “When his powered wheelchair became too small he couldn’t do anything – the wheelchair is his legs. As he doesn’t have the muscle strength to propel himself he became reliant on others to push him and no longer had his independence.”
As the new, larger, powered wheelchair 14-year-old Kai needed came with a £19,709 price tag, this was way beyond the family budget. Thankfully Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children was able to come to the rescue.
The majority of the funds for the powered wheelchair were donated through Newlife’s partnership with fashion store chain River Island, through a ‘fantastic plastic initiative’. This sees the profit from every five pence carrier bag sold at River Island’s UK stores go to Newlife to directly fund vital equipment. To date, this has resulted in almost £600,000 of specialist support.
Sonia added: “When Kai received the new powered wheelchair his face just lit up. I can’t explain how happy he was. He calls it his Porsche and won’t let anyone else touch it!”
Now Kai, who plays for Watford based wheelchair premiership football team Evergreen, has his freedom back. The powered wheelchair keeps him comfortable and supports his posture, which is vital as he has a curvature of the spine. It also allows him to stretch out his legs and will recline when he gets tired.
Sonia added: “Kai isn’t complaining about back and hip pain as often as he did before, so it’s keeping him really comfortable. The seat also goes up and down so he can rise up to reach things himself, as well as speak to people face to face – it’s so nice that he can do this. The seat itself also moves forward so he can sit at any table, which means he can go out for a meal without worrying the wheelchair won’t fit.
“The powered wheelchair has made a whole lot of difference and Kai is much happier. Despite his difficulties he tries to make the most of life and this helps him do that.”