Charities have come to the rescue of a disabled star student who was in desperate need of a new set of wheels.
Baris Inel, who has spinal muscular atrophy - a degenerative condition that leads to progressive muscle weakness - has received a state-of-the-art powered wheelchair that has given him a new sense of independence.
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The Billinge 16-year-old is a full-time wheelchair user and his condition has left him reliant on family and carers to assist him in his daily life.
They have to hoist him into his wheelchair, change his body posture and help him to access services.
The former Up Holland High School pupil had outgrown his old wheelchair and was desperately in need of a new one to ensure that he completed his education and continued to socialise with his friends.
But as mum Janet explained, there was a significant barrier to securing a new powered wheelchair for Baris: “The powered wheelchair that best suited my son’s needs cost an eye-watering £19,649! This was way beyond the family’s budget.
“My husband Halil and I were extremely worried as a new chair was vital for my son’s continued development.
“He did very well in his GCSEs, securing grade nine in English language and maths and he’s now studying for his A-levels in maths, further maths and physics at Winstanley College, in Wigan.
“His ambition is to study maths at university but without a new powered wheelchair this simply wouldn’t be possible.”
Janet and Halil feared for their son’s future, but then they were signposted to Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.
They, along with a number of other charities, including Action for Kids, provided the financial support necessary for the family to purchase a new powered wheelchair, allowing Baris to continue to flourish and develop his independence.
The new powerchair is also helping Baris in his leisure time, as Halil explained: “Baris simply adores football. He loves watching Manchester United and he’s been playing powerchair football since he was seven.
“It’s one of the reasons that he gets out of bed every morning and it’s given him a fantastic circle of friends which is not only great for Baris, it’s brilliant for the whole family as we get to meet like-minded parents and we’ve created a genuine support network amongst the group.
“Importantly, the new chair helps Baris to get to and from training sessions and his competitive matches.”
The new powerchair makes many more things accessible to Baris. He can go out for food with his friends, enjoy an evening at the bowling alley and the riser allows him to be at the correct height for the table in a restaurant.
“He can even access cash machines now,” said Janet. “The new chair also allows Baris to have some control over his posture and minimises the times he has to ask for assistance.
“The powered foot and leg rests also help to alleviate pain, and the chair even has lights to help him navigate around uneven ground in the semi-rural area where we live.”
Lisa Bates, associate director of core services for Caudwell Children, was delighted that the charity could support Baris.
She said: “We’re so pleased that Baris has finally got his new powerchair and it will improve his quality of life immeasurably.
“It even has pressure relieving foam to aid comfort and prevent pressure sores, and the seat and back rest sizes are fully adjustable so that Baris will not outgrow the chair.
“It’s already started to help him become more independent in his new college environment, which is extremely important to a young man of his age.
“Unfortunately, these highly specialised pieces of equipment come at a price, but with the continued support of the local community we can help even more young people like Baris.”
Find out more about Caudwell Children and make a donation to the charity here