Teenager Harriet Greenway – ‘Hatty’ to friends and family – will be seen on TV screens across the world when she joins other disabled and non-disabled Dorset youngsters to take part in the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games sailing events in Weymouth in July.
Hatty is a member of Activate, Bournemouth’s integrated dance group, performing in her wheelchair. The group – for 12 to 19-year-olds – will be joined by a similar group of dancers from Brazil for their performance on Saturday 28 July.
Hatty, from Dorset, has cerebral palsy which means her fine motor skills and muscles are impaired and she spends most of her time in a wheelchair for dance sessions and for her involvement with Dorset-based inclusive performance group The Remix. A specialist walker would enable Hatty to participate in these activities in a more inclusive way. Her last walker broke two years ago and has not been replaced.
Mum Nicola Greenway said: “Hatty attends mainstream school and is actively involved with performance groups in the county. At the moment she is restricted to her wheelchair, but if we could get a new specialist walker it would give her a lot more options. She is still able to weight bear, with support, but if she doesn’t get the opportunity to do this regularly she is in danger of losing that ability.”
Nicola added: “As a parent I want to ensure Hatty has every opportunity in life and her doctors have said it would really benefit her health to continue to walk when she can – aiding her posture and digestion and providing valuable exercise, for instance. Having a specialist supportive piece of equipment would also give her a different viewpoint of the world – she could look everyone in the eye instead of talking up to them from her wheelchair.”
Hatty – who currently attends Dorchester Middle School and is due to transfer to Thomas Hardye School in September – said: “A walker will really transform my life.”
A specialist walker will cost £1,979, which has prompted her parents to turn to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help. The Greenway family has pledged £500 towards the equipment, leaving Newlife to find the balance of £1,479.
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown said: “Equipment ‘enables’. It can mean the difference between comfort and pain, engagement or isolation, freedom or a worsening condition. Therefore, our equipment grants are vital to so many children, offering practical support to families. Equipment can range from pain-relieving beds and wheelchairs to specialist seating and communication aids. Equipment costing from hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise a child’s life.”
Newlife has awarded £54,510 in equipment grants to 49 children across Dorset. But the charity is experiencing hugely increased demands on its resources; calls to the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 – have shot up by 70 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 inDorset. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to support 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 in excess of Hatty’s needs will be used to help other disabled and terminally ill children inDorset.
Pictured: Hatty Greenway.