More disabled children will receive state-of-the-art ‘Wizzybug’ powered wheelchairs thanks to a grant of £54,000 from Somerset Freemasons to the Bath-based Designability charity.
Designability provides free powered wheelchairs for disabled children aged 14 months to five years who have conditions that affect their ability to walk, such as cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy and muscular dystrophy.
Children are loaned the Wizzybug for as long as they need, and the wheelchairs are designed for indoor and outdoor use. They are small enough to fit through standard doorways and can be easily transported in smaller cars.
Nine children will be receiving a Wizzybug thanks to the Freemasons’ grant.
Each Wizzybug costs £6,000 for the full lifecycle of the loan, which includes the parts and materials, maintenance, support staff costs through the life of the loan, travel and transportation costs.
There is typically no NHS funding for powered wheelchairs for children younger than five years and Designability currently has a waiting list of 65 children.
Parents, carers or children’s therapists can apply for a Wizzybug in the UK online or via an application form.
A thorough clinical assessment is conducted before a child is accepted onto the loan scheme, to ensure that it will fit that child’s specific needs.
Once the application is approved by the in-house Occupational Therapy team, a handover appointment is arranged and each Wizzybug is tailored to the child including seating changes, location and sensitivity of the joystick, and what grip they use.
Wizzybugs are refurbished after each hire and usually retired after three families.
Wizzybug-powered wheelchairs were designed by Designability and have been provided to families across the UK since 2011.
In over ten years, they have helped more than 1,000 disabled children to gain independence and mobility.
The grant from Somerset Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Genevieve Arney, Director of Fundraising and Communications from Designability, said: “We’re very grateful to Somerset Freemasons for their generous grant. Getting a Wizzybug is great for the children concerned but also has fantastic benefits for the whole family who can engage and interact in a way they couldn’t before.”
Graham Puddy from Somerset Freemasons, said: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Designability provide their wonderful Wizzybugs to children who need them.
“By making them mobile, these wonderful machines transform the lives of the children and their families and they’re also great fun, as any child who’s used one will agree.”