Pushing a wheelchair around the hilly streets of Dalton in Furness is quite literally an uphill struggle for parents Janice and Max Fong.
Their nine-year-old daughter Mia has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and is unable to walk. As she gets older – and bigger – Janice and Max are finding it harder to take her out, which also has an impact on Mia’s twin sister Lana and 19-year-old sister Kerryn.
Janice said: “For instance, every Monday Mia and Lana go to Brownies, which is about 300 yards away down a hill. It is silly to drive there, but coming back up the steep hill pushing a wheelchair is a nightmare. It’s everyday activities like this – and family days out – that really highlight our need for a powered wheelchair.”
There is no money available through local statutory services for the £9,774 hi-tech equipment that Mia needs – so the family turned to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help. Janice said: “Newlife is well known among local disability circles for supporting families in Cumbria.”
Newlife has provided specialist equipment totalling £61,019 for disabled and terminally ill children in the county.
Janice said: “Mia had a feeding peg fitted in her stomach in April and since then she has put on some weight – which is fantastic for her health. However, it now means that her weight combined with the wheelchair is eight-and-a-half stone. Mia and her twin sister adore each other and Lana would love to be able to help push her around. At the moment that isn’t possible, but with a powered wheelchair she will be able to help.”
Mia has had an opportunity to trial a powered wheelchair and Janice hopes that, eventually, her daughter may be able to operate it herself. “Mia will always be a wheelchair user and it would be great if she could work it herself – and enjoy a little bit of independence.”
With Newlife Equipment Grant awards last year (2013/14) up 33 per cent to £2,088,105, the charity is increasingly looking to ‘local heroes’ to help children in individual counties. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of all monies donated or fundraised in Cumbria can be ring-fenced to specifically provide equipment for disabled and terminally ill children within the county.
If you would like to raise money to help fund Mia’s wheelchair, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on 0800 988 4640 (free from UK landlines). Any monies collected surplus to requirements for Mia would be used to provide specialist equipment for another disabled or terminally ill child in Cumbria.
To find out more about Newlife’s range of equipment grant and loan support services, call the Nurse Helpline on 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines) or email email@example.com; alternatively go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk
Pictured: Mia Fong