Three-year-old Jessica Collins is making great strides forward in her progress, despite a complex health condition.
Jessica, from the Thornhill area of Cardiff, has tuberous sclerosis which causes benign tumours to develop in different parts of her body. This is combined with epilepsy and autistic spectrum disorder. Her behaviour can be challenging at times and she is not always stable on her feet, so having a robust buggy with a safety harness to get her out and about is a bonus. However, buggies for children as they grow past the toddler stage are not available on the mainstream market.
With no funding available from local statutory services for a specialist buggy, the Collins family turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has supported 125 children in Cardiff.
Mum Victoria Collins said: “Jess’s behaviour goes through cycles, but the situation came to a head when we were out shopping a few months ago. Jess’s old standard pushchair was too small for her so she could put her feet on the floor; on this occasion she was standing up, knocking things over. It was a horrible time and I was getting stressed with Jess’s brothers as a result and that put pressure on the boys.”
She added: “Newlife turned around our application for a specialist buggy really quickly – it is a wonderful service – and we soon had the equipment we needed. It made a difficult situation better.”
Jessica’s development is progressing well at the moment, so the buggy is not needed all the time. Victoria said: “She is able to walk around while holding hands and understand simple instructions.” However, the family is planning a day out at Chessington World of Adventure, “something we wouldn’t contemplate without the buggy,” added Victoria. “Having the equipment not only means Jess gets out and about regardless of her changeable behaviour, but the boys benefit too as we can do more things as a family.”
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Cardiff, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/cardiff. If you would like to help a local child, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newlife provides equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness through a range of services. Equipment Grants fund permanent provision; Emergency Equipment Loans support children with unstable, life-threatening or life-limiting illness and those who face injury due to the absence of appropriate equipment; Play Therapy Pods offer loans of sensory toys which aid development; Comfort Capsules help families of terminally ill children make memories. All services are accessed through the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK mobiles and landlines).
Pictured: Jessica Collins