Little Dexter Brooks, from Bude, is now able to make the most of the Cornish countryside, thanks to the support of fashion giant River Island for Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children.
Dexter, who will be two next month (July), has Cerebral Palsy which affects his muscle control and mobility; he struggles to sit up without support and slumps to one side.
His parents Natasha and Neil Brooks are now able to get him out and about in safety and improved comfort, thanks to provision of a special-needs buggy for Dexter, which has been funded through the support of the River Island fashion store chain.
The River Island funding comes through its UK-wide ‘fantastic plastic’ initiative – donating the profits from the sale of every five pence carrier bag in every store to Newlife, which uses the money to provide a range of specialist equipment. To date, this initiative has resulted in £500,000 of equipment.
Local wheelchair services told Natasha and Neil that they couldn’t help Dexter until his third birthday. In the meantime, he had turned over his previous buggy, injuring his head. Dexter’s condition results in spasms, when his body goes rigid, and his head would bash against the unpadded sides. Natasha explained: “Dexter doesn’t feel pain so we resorted to getting a helmet to help protect his head. He struggles to keep his head up, so when it flopped forward we would have to tip the old buggy backwards, pushing it along on its rear wheels, to make sure his airway wasn’t blocked.”
The equipment that best meets Dexter’s individual needs costs £2,380 – so Natasha contacted Newlife for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has supported 107 families in Cornwall, with equipment totalling £204,183.
Now the summer is looking full of promise for more family fun time together. Natasha said: “I cried when the equipment arrived – it was such a relief to get the help. The new buggy has made an amazing difference – because we know he’s safer and more comfortable, we are taking him out a lot more. Straight away we were able to take Dexter down to the beach and for a walk along the canal, feeding the ducks.
“The buggy has adjustable side, hip and foot supports, can be tilted back at a variety of angles depending on how well he is feeling or if he needs a nap, and, most importantly, it has anti-tip bars so Dexter can’t turn it over.”
Natasha added: “Dexter has been quite poorly recently and the buggy has certainly helped with our increased hospital visits. And it is used all the time for everyday things that other people take for granted – like going to the shops.”
To find out more about how Newlife supports local children, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/cornwall. The website includes details of the Newlife Supporter Relations Team – tel no 01543 462 777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness in Cornwall.
Newlife is currently working with a further four families in Cornwall, with equipment needs totalling £2,960.
Pictured: Dexter Brooks