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Ten-year-old Robert Corbett, from Staffordshire, is keeping his family on their toes since he was provided with a powered wheelchair, courtesy of locally-based national children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation.

Robert needed a powered wheelchair so he could join in more family and school activities. Mum Jane Corbett said: “Robert has cerebral palsy which mainly affects his lower body, however his upper muscle tone is variable. He had been using a manual wheelchair but because Robert is easily worn out he relied on other people to push him over any distance.”

She added: “We live on The Chase but it has been pretty impossible for Robert to get out on the access tracks. My husband takes our two older children walking regularly and to places like Conkers adventure park. Now, with his powered wheelchair, Robert can join in.

Jane said: “Robert is thrilled with the equipment and we have noticed a big difference in him. Having the powered wheelchair is making him more independent and opening up more opportunities.

“For instance, he can join in the sort of family activities that the rest of us take for granted, like setting and clearing the dinner table. He is taking a lot of pleasure in being able to help around the house.”

She added: “He is also becoming more adventurous when we are out and it has been particularly moving to see him use the wheelchair to manoeuvre himself into a standing position so he can talk to people on their own level – and not always be looking up at them.”

Once Robert has completed a wheelchair training course it will also help him get around his school – Saxon Hill– without having to rely on others, and to play with his friends during break times.

The wheelchair Robert needed cost £7,527, so the Corbett family turned to Newlife Foundation for help.

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 to wheelchairs like this one for Robert, from communication aids to specialist buggies and seating systems. Specialist aids like these, costing from hundreds to several thousands of pounds, really can revolutionise a child’s life.”

Newlife has awarded £639,158 in equipment grants to 430 children across Staffordshire. But the Cannock-based 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

“Because of the huge demand,” said Sheila, “we are calling on ‘local heroes’ to help us raise money to fund equipment in Staffordshire. 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.

Pictured: Robert Corbett

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