Kayleigh, from Devizes, has a disability that was caused by a head injury when she was younger. This means she has paraplegia in her legs, and gets muscle spasms. Getting involved in Whizz-Kidz was a real turning point for Kayleigh, she’s attended all of the charity’s different services and is now a proud member of our Kidz Board.
‘I started using a wheelchair permanently when I was 14. I found it really difficult at first, I live in quite a rural area and there was nothing available for young people with physical disabilities, and I would rarely see other wheelchair users. I felt like my disability had taken away my independence, and I lost all my confidence and stopped wanting to go out. To be honest I was embarrassed by my disability.
‘I was looking online for things to do when I found out about Whizz-Kidz, and I decided to go to the youth group (known as an Ambassador Club) in Bristol. I loved that I didn’t stand out for being a wheelchair user – there was a whole room full. I made friends with people that I’m still friends with five years later, and seeing what other people were achieving made me realise that I could carry on with my life, it would just be different.
‘Since then I’ve been to Camp Whizz-Kidz, where I learnt life skills like cooking, cleaning and making a bed. I hadn’t done any of those things since I started using a wheelchair. I’ve also done a work placement through Whizz-Kidz.
‘Going to Whizz-Kidz’s Wheelchair Skills Training was really important for me. I learnt lots of skills, including going up and down kerbs, so I didn’t have to get stuck on a bit of pavement trying to find a drop kerb anymore. But the training also made me realise I needed a wheelchair that suited my needs better. I was using an NHS chair that broke a lot – once the wheel fell off in the supermarket – and it was very heavy, meaning I found it difficult to push myself and had to be pushed a lot of the time.
‘I applied to Whizz-Kidz for a wheelchair. When I met with a therapist, we talked about what I needed from the chair. I wanted to be able to attend university independently, and it needed to be light enough for me to lift it into the car myself when I learn to drive. I was also adamant that it didn’t need to have handles, because I don’t need to be pushed!
‘Whizz-Kidz provided me with an active manual lightweight chair. It’s one of the sportiest designs that there is, and it means I can go out with friends and not worry about being a burden or being left behind.
‘I am now proud to be a member of Whizz-Kidz’s Kidz Board, where I can support the charity to continue helping wheelchair users. I promote the organisation and inspire other people to get involved and provide support. In the future I hope to set up my own charity providing arts opportunities for young people with disabilities or mental health problems.
- Kayleigh with fellow Kidz Board member George on the London Eye
- Kayleigh supported the launch of the charity's #getonboard campaign...
- ... and was even featured in the #getonboard report!
Our #getonboard campaign is working to make transport more inclusive for wheelchair users. Read more, download our report and pledge your support on our #getonboard page.