A Walton-on-Thames three-year-old with severe Cerebral Palsy which has left him unable to walk and with only limited movement urgently needs a specialist car seat to ensure he is safe and comfortable when he travels in the family car.
A happy and sociable little boy, James Barnard enjoys spending time with his parents, Mary and Henk, and watching his five-year-old sister, Hannah, play with their friends; but as he has limited movement he isn’t able to join in. James also has no speech, is fed through a tube and experiences seizures, the majority of which occur during the night.
As a result of having Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, James’s core is weak and floppy, so he struggles to support his own weight and keep his body upright. Although he has specialist seating equipment in his home to keep his posture supported so he is safe and comfortable, he has been using a high street car seat for all journeys and this no longer gives him the postural support he needs. As a result journeys are now restricted to those considered vital, such as hospital appointments.
With no mainstream seats suitable for James, his family began to research specialist car seats. However as the most suitable version for James costs £1,443, the 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.
Due to the high number of applications it is currently dealing with, Newlife is looking for ‘local heroes’ to help make this happen for him.
The specialist seat would give James all the extra support he needs to stay upright in just the right position so he is as comfortable as possible. A turntable base also means it would be much easier to transfer James in and out of the car – now and as he grows – so transfer would be safer for both him and his parents as moving him wouldn’t put so much stress on their backs.
Mum Mary said: “James’s high street car seat is a really tight squeeze now and he slumps to the side which is really uncomfortable for him. The headrest pushes into his shoulder too – and he does let me know he doesn’t like the pressure! I feel really quite sorry for him.
“We are restricting journeys as we are very conscious that we don’t want to put him into the car seat unless we have to, but we have a lot of medical appointments for James and the hospital is a 30 to 40 minute drive away, which is too long for him to be like that really. I do worry.”
The restrictions on using the current car seat for James means the whole family has to miss out on many fun activities as they can only really visit places within walking distance – restricting them to their local coffee shop, supermarket and garden centre.
Mary added: “Without the right car seat for James it makes it difficult to do those family things we can do with James that help create those precious family moments.
“With the specialist car seat we would have the reassurance we need that he is safe in the car and comfortable. This would give us our freedom back.” If you would like to support James, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/surrey and click on the Donate button next to his story.
Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email [email protected] Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Surrey will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county. Any money raised above the amount needed for James will be used to help other local children as he is just one of 24 in Surrey with equipment needs totalling £32,903.
Pictured: James Barnard