Free powerchair loan scheme to help disabled children under 5 in Northern Ireland
A new charity collaboration is giving disabled children in Northern Ireland under five years old access to fun powerchairs for free, allowing them to achieve greater independence, mobility and freedom.
The partnership between the Mae Murray Foundation and Designability will see families access Designability’s Wizzybug powerchairs through a loan scheme funded by charitable donations for the first time in Northern Ireland. This enables families to offer the mobility device to their child for as long as required at no cost.
Alex Leach, Early Years Powered Mobility Manager at Designability, commented: “We have wanted to extend the reach of the Wizzybug Loan Scheme to families in Northern Ireland for some time and we are so pleased to be partnering with the Mae Murray Foundation, an inspiring charity based in Larne, to finally get there.
“I am so looking forward to seeing the first child in Northern Ireland enjoying their independence with a Wizzybug!”
Formed of engineers, designers and healthcare professionals designing assistive technologies, Designability, based in Bath, developed the Wizzybug in the 1990s and has continuously improved and enhanced the design over the years.
Designed specifically for children living with cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, spina bifida or muscular dystrophy under the age of five, Designability currently has over 400 Wizzybugs in its fleet which it loans to children in the British Isles for free through fundraising initiatives.
Alix Crawford, Chairperson at the Mae Murray Foundation, said: “As a ‘lived experience’ and membership led charity, we are delighted to be able to respond to requests from families to introduce Wizzybug in Northern Ireland. Championing another ‘first’ for the province, by linking with the experienced professionals at Designability, we can’t wait to see the impact this will make.”
The Mae Murray Foundation’s goal is to allow people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world and enjoy friendship in an inclusive environment.
The Wizzybug Loan Scheme is open to disabled children aged 14 months to five years old living with disabilities. However, Designability states that the only real eligibility criteria is that a child is in need of greater independence, mobility and freedom.