A Farnborough 11-year-old who has Cerebral Palsy desperately needs a light-weight wheelchair so he can propel it himself and not have to rely on other people to push him around. This would give him the freedom and independence he needs to do so much more than his current heavy, bulky, manual wheelchair allows.
Brandon Smith, who will be going to secondary school in September, currently has a wheelchair so difficult to manoeuvre that even his parents, Jade and Garry, struggle to push it. With a lightweight wheelchair he would be able to decide where he wants to go – and just go – which would be a huge boost for his confidence and self-esteem.
As the wheelchair Brandon needs costs £3,109 his family turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. Now the charity is calling on local heroes to help make this happen. If you would like to support Brandon in getting his equipment, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hampshire and click on the Donate button next to his story. Any funds raised above what is needed for Brandon will help pay for equipment for another child in Hampshire, as he is one of 17 children in the county with current equipment needs totalling £25,807.
The form of Cerebral Palsy which Brandon has mainly affects his legs. This means on a good day Brandon can walk up to ten steps, with help, but on a bad day finds even weight bearing difficult, so he really relies on his wheelchair for these times.
Mum Jade said: “Brandon understands he has limitations, but he is capable of doing so much more – he just doesn’t have the right equipment. He is very sociable, chatty and has a good sense of humour; he likes to make people laugh, but not having the independence he needs makes him feel isolated and left out – it affects his confidence.
“Brandon plays wheelchair basketball once a week and when he does this he is able to use a sports wheelchair. This makes a huge difference to him and shows him what he could do with the right wheelchair.
“At school, although his teachers try their best to include him in sessions, it’s difficult for them as they struggle to manoeuvre his wheelchair. It would be much more enjoyable for Brandon to take part without having to rely on someone else pushing him.”
At home Brandon’s wheelchair limits what he can do too, as he isn’t able to play properly with his brothers, Felix, eight, and Oscar, two. When they take their Labrador, Toby, for a walk they can only go on a flat, even path as that is all Brandon’s wheelchair can cope with.
Jade added: “If Brandon had a lightweight wheelchair he would be able to join in with his friends on the playground and play with his brothers in the garden. It would mean a lot to us as we want him to be as confident as he can be and do as much as he can independently.”
Newlife is currently receiving more Equipment Grant applications than at any time in its 25-year history, which is why public support is needed to help families caring for disabled and terminally ill children in Hampshire.
The website www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hampshire includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email [email protected]ty.co.uk – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the area. One hundred per cent of all fundraising/donations in Hampshire will go directly towards providing equipment for children in the county; nothing is taken out for administration.
Pictured: Brandon with brothers Felix and Oscar