Car journeys are no longer a test of nerve for Huddersfield mum Dearbhla Gartland, thanks to provision of a special-needs car seat for her four-year-old son.
Sean Gartland has Down’s Syndrome and has no awareness of danger – this extends to in-car safety and he would regularly undo his own safety harness, and then his little sister’s, during journeys out with mum.
Dearbhla said: “Sean has a lot of medical appointments, some ten miles away, so we have to travel. I have tried taking him on the bus in his special needs buggy, but the space for prams is often already full and if I collapse his buggy and try to sit with him on a bus seat – with his two-year-old sister Lily – he won’t say still but will instead run about the vehicle; it’s just too dangerous.”
She added: “Driving is the safest option, but it was very difficult for me to concentrate on the road when I was having to keep a constant watch on Sean. At first he could only get his arms out of his car seat straps but then he started undoing his harness and leaning across to undo his sister’s safety straps too.”
Sean’s occupational therapist told Dearbhla about specialist seating and harnesses that keep children secure – but the equipment for Sean cost £681 and there was no local authority funding available. So the family turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help.
Dearbhla said: “Now Sean’s got the new car seat, journeys are a lot easier. The seat is much bigger than a standard seat and has additional padding to keep him comfortable and fully supported. It has a five-point harness and he can’t undo the straps so he is secure. He really loves the new seat and it has made a huge difference.”
Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. It has supported 469 families in West Yorkshire with equipment totalling £530,189. Funding for Sean’s car seat has come thanks to support from Central England Co-operative, which has helped more than 630 disabled and terminally ill children through its charity partnership with Newlife.
Since 2012, colleagues and customers at Central England Co-operative stores have raised £1.3million for Newlife – every penny of which is being directly spent on providing specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in the retailer’s trading area.
Andrew Bates, Store Manager at the convenience store in Halifax Road, Birchencliffe, said: “Central England Co-operative takes fundraising to help local communities very seriously, and we are committed to making a positive impact in the local areas in which we trade. Working with Newlife has provided a great opportunity for us to help make life easier for youngsters like Sean.”
For more information about how Newlife supports local families, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westyorkshire.