A simple piece of specialist equipment has helped transform the home life of six-year-old Libbi-Faith Dudley from Birmingham.
Libbi has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, is fed through a tube in her stomach and needs oxygen when she is unwell. She was previously constrained by a wheelchair she couldn’t operate herself so constantly relied on other people to push her around. Now she has a specialist walking frame, she can go wherever she wants in the family’s open-plan Bartley Green house.
Nine months of using the walker have improved her muscle control and sparked her interest in the world around her. When Libbi was given the walker back in August last year, mum Eloise Dudley had one particular ambition for her daughter: “We are hoping she will be able to get herself around our home; I look forward to the day when she suddenly starts appearing in the kitchen!”
Now, Eloise’s dream has come true. She said: “Within a few weeks she was able to access the whole of the downstairs. She loves nothing more than to sneak up behind me, grab my tea towel and throw it on the floor or surprise her dad when he is doing the washing up. It’s about her engaging in normal family life really.”
Not only has the walker given Libbi a bit of independence, continual use has helped improve her head control and because she can get around under her own steam she is more interested in what’s going on around her. Eloise said: “It’s simple things, like being able to interact more with our dog.”
She added: “Libbi is doing so well. She loves being in the walker evenings after school, at weekends and in the school holidays. It gives her so much more independence and is making a huge difference to her life. This year, for the first time, when we go on holiday to Burnham on Sea she will even be able to get around the pathways on the caravan site.”
Her new independence is thanks to fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative who raised the £1,857 that enabled Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, which is based in Cannock, to provide the walker.
Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. It has funded £1,321,473 of equipment for 1,271 children in the West Midlands alone. Newlife has been the staff elected charity for Central England Co-operative since May 2012, and in that time colleagues and customers have raised more than £1,098,000. Every penny is directly spent on providing specialist equipment for children in the Central England Co-operative trading area. To date, they have helped transform the lives of more than 460 children like Libbi.
The Dudley family approached Newlife after Libbi had an opportunity to trial a walking frame at a disability exhibition – and take her first independent steps. “It was a huge ‘lump in the throat’ moment,” said Eloise.
With no funding available from local statutory services, the family contacted Newlife as the charity had previously provided Libbi with a specialist car seat to ensure her safety while travelling.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in the West Midlands, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westmidlands
Pictured: Libbi-Faith Dudley