Surrey five-year-old Logan Berry is one of the first children in the country to benefit from the Government’s recent announcement of a change to the law involving powered wheelchairs.
The amendment – which will potentially give thousands more children greater access to hi-tech wheelchairs – is a direct response to a dedicated campaign for change by leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation.
Logan’s parents had applied to Newlife for a powered wheelchair, not realising that its weight – 141kgs – would prevent the charity from supplying the equipment. Until the recent announcement by Department of Transport Under Secretary Norman Baker, under-14s were not allowed wheelchairs weighing over 113kgs under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The amendment will now allow provision up to 150kgs.
Newlife has petitioned widely to raise the weight limit of Class 2 wheelchairs – for the under-14s – to 150kgs. Thanks to the successful Newlife campaign, the additional weight allowance will mean statutory providers, Newlife and other charities can now supply this equipment.
The amendment will enable more disabled children like Logan to experience greater independence, with wheelchairs that have a wider range of functions including sit-to-stand, tilt-in-space, high-low positioning and posture support.
Logan has cerebral palsy which affects his arms as well as his legs so he is not able to self-propel a lightweight wheelchair. He previously used a special needs buggy, which meant he relied on other people to push him around.
Mum Nicole Newcomb, said: “Logan attends a mainstream school – Bagshot Infants – and a powered wheelchair will enable him to have a bit of independence, keep up with his classmates and join in more activities. It is very important to us, as parents, that he has the opportunity to play a full part in school life.”
The wheelchair costs £15,069, which prompted his parents to turn to Newlife Foundation for help. His application – for a 141kg powered wheelchair, with high-low feature – was received just days before the change in law was announced. Charity staff had been preparing a letter informing the family that Newlife couldn’t provide the equipment, on legal grounds, but have instead been delighted to be able to say ‘Yes’.
Nicole said: “I had no idea that the law as it stood would have preventedLoganfrom having the wheelchair he needs, so we were really pleased to hear about the changes; it is such good news.”
Logan was presented with his wheelchair at Bagshot Infants School earlier this month.
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “This is a great example of government listening to an organisation that knows how people are being negatively affected by an issue, tackling the situation and then taking it forward to effect a targeted change. This amendment to the Road Traffic Act will make a huge difference to disabled children with severe mobility problems, who can now make use of the most up to date equipment without the restriction of an outdated law. We are delighted that Newlife has been able to be so influential in bringing about this change.”
She added: “We were particularly pleased to be able to say ‘Yes’ to this family’s application, knowing the huge change it will make to Logan’s daily life.”
Pictured: Logan Berry