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The family of a 13-year-old disabled Yorkshire boy is hoping kind-hearted readers will help to give him a voice.

Shaun Powders, of Holmsfirth, was born with a defect which left him brain damaged, suffering epilepsy and with cerebral palsy. He has poor balance and co-ordination, trips and falls easily and requires one-to-one support. In addition, he can only use his right hand and is unable to form words and has to rely on signs to tell his parents when he is in pain or to make his needs known.

He is becoming increasingly frustrated as others cannot understand him – but he has trialled a communication system which he has proved he is able to use. But, sadly, his family was then told the local authority does not fund communication aids.

Now they have turned to leading UK charity Newlife Foundation for help in raising the money needed through its Equipment Grants system.

The communication system Shaun needs is known as PECS and it will enable him to interact with others and enhance his personal relationships.

Shaun’s dad, Mark, said: “Shaun really struggles to make himself understood. The communication system will be a huge benefit for him.”

Last year Newlife awarded £1.5million in equipment grants to children throughout the UK – including over £81,000 in Yorkshire which helped 67 children. However, Newlife is experiencing a huge increase in demand on its resources; calls to its Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 –

have shot up compared to this time last year and there are thousands more hits on the charity’s website

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Our equipment grants are so vital to so many children, offering practical support to families in need. Equipment can range from a pain-relieving bed to communication aids like this one for Shaun, from wheelchairs to standing frames. Equipment that costs from hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise a child’s life.”

“Because of the huge demand,” said Sheila, “we are calling on ‘local heroes’ to help us raise money to fund equipment in Yorkshire. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to local disabled children.”

Newlife is currently working with the families of 24 children in Yorkshire who need specialist equipment totalling over £40,000. Any money raised in excess of Shaun’s needs will be used to help other disabled and terminally ill children in the county.

Newlife is calling on local individuals, groups, companies and organisations in Yorkshire to come forward to help. Anyone wanting to support the charity can call the community fundraising team on freephone 0800 988 4640.

Pictured: 13-year-old Shaun Powders needs help to communicate.

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