On International Wheelchair Day, Variety beneficiaries describe how their new wheelchairs have transformed their lives
In the last 30 years, Variety has provided mobility equipment to 4,500 children and young people all over the UK, from Dundee to Southampton, Preston to Bath and many places in between. Variety has supported children with over 50 different conditions, the majority of which are muscular, skeletal and neurological conditions. On International Wheelchair Day, Variety celebrates the the life-changing impact this has had on young lives.
Since 2012, over the last 8 years, Variety have provided mobility equipment to 526 children and young people. But in the last year alone, the charity has seen demand for its services increase by over 50%. With both disability and poverty on the rise, demand for the charity’s services is increasing.
In 2019, nearly half of the mobility equipment that Variety provided was to children aged between 12 and 16 years. During this year, 35% of the chairs it provided were sports wheelchairs.
Some of Variety’s young beneficiaries share the life-changing effects that their wheelchairs have had, discussing accessibility, public misconceptions and the independence that their chairs have given them.
16-year-old Yassine, who has cerebral palsy and is one of Variety’s beneficiaries, comments on the sports wheelchair that the charity provided for him: “My sports wheelchair was kindly donated by Variety and it has totally changed my life. I play wheelchair basketball for the Thames Valley Kings Wheelchair Basketball Team and I no longer need to borrow or use the club’s chair. I can practice and train whenever I want or need to.”
“Wheelchairs are absolutely essential! Without mine, I won’t be able to play the sport I love. One day, I would love to represent my country and play at a higher level.”
Variety Young Ambassador, 12-year-old Dante, discusses wheelchair accessiblilty: “The most fun place I have ever been to in my wheelchair is London, as it’s the capital city of England. The accessibility isn’t great though. Liverpool is better than London when it comes to accessibility!”
“If I could make places accessible, like London, I would get rid of all the stairs and replace them with ramps so the wheelchairs could get up, in and out of shops and fast-food restaurants. I would also make the elevators bigger so wheelchairs could get in.”
Six-year-old Ezzy says: “I use my Variety wheelchair when I get tired after I have tried to walk. My legs get super-tired, so I like to jump in my chair and push myself around to where I want to go. I like going fast.”
“I think wheelchairs are good because they let me have independence and let me go where I want to. I don’t like it when I have to get pushed about. I like to push myself and look at the things I want to when I am out with mummy and daddy. I like to learn and see things when I want to.”
“I think sometimes people think I can’t walk, or they look sad at me in my chair. I don’t know why, because I am very happy and very lucky to have a comfy fun chair, especially with flashy wheels. I love my chair so much and I am so grateful to Variety for helping me to have such a beautiful, fun chair. I love using it and it helps me so much to get around, just like my brothers and sisters and friends. I can enjoy things like they can without having to wait to be shown.”
Variety has been helping disabled and disadvantaged children across Britain to reach their full potential for the past 70 years, during which time the charity has helped over one million children.