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THE NEWARK ADVERTISER AND RIVER ISLAND HELP TRANSFORM LIFE FOR NOTTINGHAMSHIRE 12-YEAR-OLD

When you are asked to pay five pence for a carrier bag in a store have you ever wondered what happens to the money? Well, in the case of River Island outlets – like the one at the Four Seasons Shopping Centre in Mansfield – profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to national charity Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children.

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

River Island is doing something fantastic with the plastic profits – funding a range of specialist disability equipment. Local 12-year-old Emma Clark is one of the children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative. Thanks to money raised through the bag sales as well as a media appeal in the Newark Advertiser and funding from other nationwide charities, Newlife was able to provide a motorised walking device for Emma, costing in excess of £11,000, which her parents Mandy and Darren say has been ‘Awesome’.

The motorised walking device Newlife has been able to provide means Emma has been able to improve her posture, muscle strength and tone, which, it is hoped, will help her develop a stepping motion. Her overall health has also improved, so she is much happier.

Emma, from East Markham in Nottinghamshire, has a type of Cerebral Palsy caused by a tiny part of her brain being damaged at birth. This affects control of her muscle tone, which can vary, being either tight and rigid, or loose and floppy – and this can change minute by minute, muscle by muscle. As a result she is unable to talk, walk, sit properly or stand.

Mum Mandy said: “Emma has been in the walking device every day for at least 30 minutes and in the first week she had it, she did a total of 15 miles.

“We have definitely seen an improvement – she has put on one kilo in weight as she is eating more, her digestion is better, she is sleeping better and is calmer. She isn’t so stressed about her tummy now.”

When Emma was born her leg muscles were so tight her feet were crossed so her hip joints didn’t develop properly. Surgery fixed the left hip socket, but when the surgery was repeated on the right side, she was put in a Y-shaped cast to recover. Unfortunately, her leg muscles got confused and pulled her left leg over permanently, which drags the right side over. However, it is now hoped the walking equipment will help correct this.

Mandy added: “Emma’s legs are strapped in and it makes a walking movement while remaining static, but as well as correcting her posture it is strengthening her muscles and creating muscle memory.

“Emma is happier in herself and takes part in more things both at home and school. She’s getting stronger and although she isn’t standing on her own yet, she’s secure standing in the walker, which she wasn’t to begin with.

“Because of her stronger muscles her teachers at school have noticed an improvement in her swimming, which is a step forward. The long term aim is to get leg movement, but we are very happy with the way things are going.

“I want to say a big thank you to anyone who donated towards the equipment help make my daughter happier.”

Newlife Charity CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can have a significant effect on young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.”

She added: “Anyone struggling to access equipment through their statutory services should call our Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) to discuss their individual situation.”

If you would like to find out more about Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk.

Newlife has funded specialist equipment for 420 children in Nottinghamshire, at a cost of £346,041. If you think you could help a local child, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/Nottinghamshire for further details; we are currently working with a further 25 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £2,456. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email [email protected]

Pictured: Emma Clark

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