Teenager Sam Morton was faced with having to abandon his university studies when statutory services offered his family a fraction of the funding needed for a new wheelchair.
Now, thanks to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, Sam has the equipment he needs to complete his English Language and Scriptwriting course at the University of Winchester and ensure his continued independence. Sam, aged 19, is now helping Newlife raise awareness of how it can potentially support other young people to follow their dreams. Go to http://newlife.zone/app (on your i-Pad) for the full story.
“There is a baseline need for compassion and care that charities like Newlife fulfil. They help give every child the right to a future and the right to live a happy life,” says Sam, who has Cerebral Palsy affecting all four limbs.
“We are living in an incredibly pivotal time right now where disability and disability rights are concerned. To other young disabled people like myself I would say surround yourselves with the right people to help you get the support and equipment you need so you can fulfil your individual potential.”
Determined Sam is a huge movie fan and has set his sights on a career in film scriptwriting. With the support of a hi-tech wheelchair he made the move from the family home in Wiltshire to university in Hampshire. Sam says: “I honestly don’t think it would have been feasible to go off to university without a powered wheelchair – and I can’t begin to describe how amazing the experience has been. It was definitely the best decision I ever made.”
But with the functional life of his existing equipment coming to an end, only a £10,819 replacement would allow him to carry on into the second year of studies. Dedicated professionals in Wiltshire had identified the most appropriate wheelchair, but the statutory offer was equipment that wouldn’t have enough functions to meet the demands of independent living – or a voucher for £4,264.
Newlife has supported Sam with hi-tech wheelchair provision since 2007, so when his family was left to find £6,555 for the right equipment, it stepped in to help once again.
Sam said: “Wheelchair services offer you something that isn’t fit for your needs – the equipment originally offered wouldn’t enable me to be at university and live independently – and then when you say ‘no’ you are made to feel a burden and that you are ungrateful. Which is why Newlife has made such a big difference.”
He added: “Thanks to this latest equipment I can finally cook for myself in the kitchen, which is something I would never have imagined myself doing – ever. I can get to things on the higher shelves in shops, access bookshelves in the university library and get around the campus and town without worrying about breaking down or having to rely on other people.”
The charity was able to help thanks to the support of fashion retailer River Island and its ‘fantastic plastic’ initiative – contributing the profit from the sale of every carrier bag at every one of its UK stores to the charity, specifically for equipment provision. This initiative has resulted in £500,000 for Newlife.
Newlife Head of Operations Stephen Morgan said: “Sam is a very inspirational young man and it has been a pleasure to have been able to support him in taking the first steps towards realising his ambitions. It is a huge undertaking for any young person to leave home and go off to university, but Sam has had to overcome so many more obstacles than most. We are confident his positive attitude will inspire more young people with a disability to follow their dreams.”
Sam added: “The new wheelchair has changed everything. In fact, this summer I’m going to do something I thought I would never be able to do . . . go and enjoy a couple of music festivals.”
Stephen Morgan said: “The UK has more disabled children than ever before and families have to ‘battle and beg’ local services for support, and still they face heart-breaking refusals. Newlife is the largest UK charity providing specialist equipment; we help save lives and change lives, every day.”
To find out more about how Newlife supports families of disabled and terminally ill children in your local area, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/local.