When Christian Simmons, from Worcestershire, was four years old his father was told he would never be able to walk. Now, a decade later, he is taking his first faltering steps.
Christian – who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and a learning disability – now needs a specialist walking frame to help him develop – and his family has turned to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help with funding for the £1,008 piece of equipment.
Newlife is the charity which recently provided 16-year-old Worcester Technical College student Alexander Jordan with a hi-tech £20,000 powered wheelchair through its partnership with retail giant M&S.
Stepmum Jacqueline Griffiths said: “For Christian, the look on his face when he is able to be a bit more independent will be what it’s all about. From being told he would never walk he can now stand up and walk a few short steps. We now need a specialist walking frame to encourage him to develop this skill.
“Little things can make such a big difference and to see him at the stage he is now is just amazing.”
Christian attends St Christopher’s School in Bristol, where he stays during the week and where he would get most use from the walker. He returns home every weekend and for school holidays.
Jacqueline said: “He could use the walker to get from his own room at school to the classrooms, between classrooms during the day and at break times. It would give him a new level of independence and help strengthen his body and leg muscles at the same time.”
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Our equipment grants are so important to so many children, offering practical support to families in need. Equipment can range from a pain-relieving bed to communication aids, from wheelchairs to specialist walking frames like the one Christian needs. Equipment that costs from hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise a child’s life.”
Newlife has awarded £138,587 to 79 children in Worcestershire. However, the charity is currently experiencing hugely increased demands on its resources; calls to the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 – have shot up by 73 per cent. This is an average of 300 calls a week, with thousands more hits on the charity’s website www.newlifecharity.co.uk
“Because of the huge demand,” said Sheila, “we are calling on ‘local heroes’ to help us raise money to fund equipment in Worcestershire. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to disabled children in the county.”
If you think you can help, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.
Any money raised surplus to requirements for Christian will help support other disabled and terminally ill children in Worcestershire.