Playtime at school is the highlight of the day for most children – it’s a chance to chat with friends without an adult listening in, to run around and make the most of the fresh air. But not for nine-year-old Dominic Blower. Dominic, who lives in St Albans, has a genetic condition so rare that doctors are yet to give it a name. It means that he has to use a wheelchair in order to get around and as his power chair is broken, Dominic relies on an adult to push him round at all times – he never gets to spend time with his friends on his own.
Dominic’s condition means that he also needs to be fed through a tube, has problems with his thyroid, is growth hormone deficient, has difficulties with processing sounds and struggles in some social situations – his mum Renata says, “Everything is just that bit more difficult for Dominic.”
When Dominic had a power chair he was able to have a level of independence he had only dreamt of – it allowed him to play with his friends, to move at a speed similar to his peers and to feel part of a group – all things that are vital to any child. And then six months ago, Dominic’s chair broke and he has been without that independence ever since.
With a replacement chair costing £10, 427, Renata had no choice but to approach Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children – the UK’s largest charitable provider of essential equipment to meet the specialist needs of children with disabilities and terminal illness – to see if it was able to help – and Newlife in turn needs the help of local heroes to raise the money needed to give Dominic back his independence. It is also hoped that the new chair, which will have suspension, will give Dominic some relief from the chronic pain he experiences every day – every bump his wheelchair goes over is painful for him.
Mum, Renata, said: “The difference in Dominic since his chair broke has been huge – it has had a massive impact in the way he interacts with his friends. Having the new chair would transform his life – it has a raising function which would allow him to be at the same height as his peers so he wouldn’t have to keep looking up at people, something he finds quite painful.
“We had tried to get the chair from statutory services but we were told that because Dominic is able to use a manual chair a little bit when he is at home, then he doesn’t meet the criteria. The fact that he is only able to do it for a few minutes and can’t do it at all when we are out isn’t considered. It is very frustrating. We want Dominic to have as much independence as possible, both now and when he is grown up so that he can be as self-sufficient as an adult as possible – but it seems that statutory services concentrate on short term budgets rather than long term planning.”
Newlife has provided 156 children from Hertfordshire with £206, 069 worth of disability equipment, but more help is still needed and there are currently seven children in the county who are waiting for equipment totalling £39, 088. In response to the growing need, Newlife established the Newlife Hertfordshire Fund – www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hertfordshire – giving local people to the chance to help local disabled children like Dominic, and every penny fundraised or donated in Hertfordshire is guaranteed to support families in the county. The Newlife Hertfordshire Fund supports equipment provision for under 19s facing any significant disability whether acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of the money fundraised or donated for Dominic will go towards his powered wheelchair and any surplus funds will help fund equipment for another disabled or terminally ill child in the Hertfordshire area.
Further information about the Newlife Hertfordshire Fund – and how to specifically fundraise to help Dominic – can be found by going to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hertfordshire or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone donations can be made by calling 01543 462777.
Pictured: Dominic Blower