Appeal for help to give young Austin some independence

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A charity for disabled children is appealing for help to buy a wheelchair for a young boy in Wakefield.

Austin Atkinson, 12, has a very rare type of muscular dystrophy that effects anything he does that requires strength. Although he can take a few steps using a walking frame, Austin relies on his wheelchair to get about – without it he wouldn’t be able to do something as simple as go to school.

The youngster has outgrown his wheelchair which is light and manoeuvrable. The wheelchair offered as a replacement by the local authority is difficult for even an adult to push, let alone for Austin to move by himself, so his family has turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help raising the £2,588 needed to get him the right wheelchair.

Dad Richard said: “We are very grateful for the equipment Austin has been provided with up to this point, but the whole process of getting him a new wheelchair has been incredibly slow.

“He was measured over a year ago and he will have grown again since then. The chair he has been offered won’t allow him to have the independence he is used to – he’s a bright and sociable boy but without the right chair he is going to be isolated.

“Not having the right equipment, at the right time is holding disabled children back and not allowing them to reach their full potential.

Austin isn’t asking anything outlandish – this is something that he needs in order to be able to live his day-to-day life.”

Austin is just one of 49 children across Yorkshire who are in desperate need of equipment. Newlife has said it would need to raise £53,540 to help them all. The charity has spent more money in Yorkshire than in the whole of Scotland or Wales, indicating a serious problem with the statutory provision of disability equipment for children in the county.

Consultant nurse at Newlife, Karen Dobson, said: “One of the most heart-breaking parts of my job is when we have to say no to a child and family who are in desperate need of help because we simply don’t have the funds available. I know it’s hard to believe but the reality is that many of these children have already been refused essential equipment by their local health services.” Call 0800 988 4640 or visit www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westyorkshire to donate.