Ruth lives in the North West of England and received her first Whizz-Kidz wheelchair when she was five – now over twenty years ago. Since then, Whizz-Kidz has helped Ruth to realise her aspirations and she now works as a Fundraising Co-ordinator at Whizz-Kidz.
'I was born with spina bifida and scoliosis, which means that I use a wheelchair to get about. Before my family and I knew about Whizz-Kidz, I had a chair from the NHS, but it was very heavy and far too big for me. As a result it was hard to move it by myself and, looking back on my experience, it is frightening to think how dependent you are on other people without the right equipment.
'When I was five, I received a manual wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz. It was incredible – lightweight, Barbie pink and girly, it was something that I was proud to use and be seen in! Getting my first Whizz-Kidz wheelchair was like being handed a life. Suddenly I had the freedom to move around by myself and had to rely on others to get around a lot less. My mum and dad definitely had a new sense of freedom too, for example it was a lot easier for them to lift a lightweight wheelchair in and out of our car.
'Getting my pink wheelchair was really just the beginning for me. Whizz-Kidz was, and has been ever since, like another member of our family. As a fiercely independent, confident and positive person, I always want to achieve everything I can and I always have very high expectations of myself – something that Whizz-Kidz fully supports me in. I have been involved in the Manchester Ambassador Club, Kidz Board, Work Placements, fundraised for the charity and now I even work there!
'After proudly finishing university with a First Class BA Hons degree in Creative Writing and English, I (naively) thought I would find employment easily, but that wasn't the case. Even though employer attitudes towards disabled people had improved a lot, I still faced some pretty harsh levels of discrimination when I was looking for work. This wasn't easy as I had always wanted to work and be self-sufficient – I had never let my disability get in the way of anything throughout my childhood and wasn't going to start now, entering the working world!
'In 2010, an employment opportunity came up at Whizz-Kidz and I attended a series of interviews for a position in the Young People's Team as Ambassador Club Coordinator. I was absolutely ecstatic to become a full time employee and be able to share my personal journey and experiences with other disabled young people. I have since worked as a Work Placements Manager, and I now work as part of the Fundraising Team at Whizz-Kidz, helping the charity to raise vital funds.'
- Ruth ready for school before her Whizz-Kidz chair
- Ruth poses before her prom