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A Chelmsley Wood five-year-old who has Autism is now safe and calm when he goes outside, thanks to a specialist buggy. This means is family can now enjoy more fun together as his mum is no longer restricted to where she can take him and his siblings.

Due to his autism and sensory processing disorder, Rio O’Mara finds many situations in everyday life overwhelming as every sense is heightened and he particularly struggles with noise and crowds. As a result, being outside without a buggy to transport him means he would throw himself to the floor, behave aggressively or run off. As he has no awareness of danger, this is particularly unsafe.

Mum Kira was using a standard buggy to take him out, but he outgrew this and he is physically too big and heavy for her to carry. Unable to take Rio outside safely, mum Kira had to restrict outings for Rio and four-year-old sister Nevaeh. Even a simple shopping trip would take planning as she couldn’t safely take them out without another adult present.

Rio needed a specialist buggy, but as this would cost £775 Kira applied to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

With the support of fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative, Newlife has provided Rio with the equipment so he and his family can now go wherever and whenever they want – including a trip to Cadbury World in Bournville to celebrate.

Kira, who also has a 12-year-old son, Chase, said: “Without a buggy I was always worried Rio would hurt himself – he would just run into the road. He couldn’t go in his old buggy anymore, he was too big for it and it looked like it was about to collapse. We weren’t going out unless we had to so we had to miss out on a lot things. When we did go out it had to be pre-planned and I would be very anxious. Even the ten minute walk from school would take 45 minutes and leave us all very stressed.

“Thanks to the new buggy we can go out now. He’s much more comfortable and he just sits in it quietly and calmly. As well as being able to transport him safely, Rio uses the buggy as a safe place when we are out. Because he has time to retreat from noise and crowds he has fewer meltdowns, so we are all less stressed.

Newlife has been Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity since 2012 – and colleagues and customers have raised £1.2million, which has in turn has helped fund specialist equipment like wheelchairs and walking frames, portable hoists and communication aids for more than 540 children in the retailer’s trading area.

Daniel Beers, Manager at Central England Co-operative’s convenience store on the Kinghurst Hall Estate, in Castle Bromwich, 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 Rio.”

Newlife provides equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness through a range of services. Equipment Grants fund permanent provision; Emergency Equipment Loans support children with unstable, life-threatening or life-limiting illness and those who face injury due to the absence of appropriate equipment; Play Therapy Pods offer loans of sensory toys which aid development; Comfort Capsules help families of terminally ill children make memories. All services are accessed through the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK mobiles and landlines).

To find out how you could help a child in the county, go to: Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email

Pictured: Rio O’Mara