Launched back in April this year, the competition was promoted to over 27,000 schools and open to all young wheelchair users in the UK. Entries were judged in three different age categories (12 and under, 13 to 17 and 18 to 25) and the winners were chosen by a panel of wheelchair users, led by the actress and campaigner Samantha Renke
First prize went to Hannah Bishop, a 23-year-old wheelchair user from Horsham, West Sussex. Hannah’s design featured stair climbing and ‘hover’ capabilities, which were inspired by her frustrations of trying to access places like her friend’s houses or going to the beach in a wheelchair.
Speaking at the awards reception, Hannah said: “I have been to Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton and it is still very difficult to get to the seafront. This made me think about how a wheelchair could be improved. My design would allow me to go to the beach and to use stairs. This competition has inspired me and other young people. I believe that disabled people can achieve anything they want and should never give up trying! Planners can make things a lot easier for us, but all of the technology I imagined in my design may really be possible in ten or twenty years.”
Tom said: “The entries came from far and wide and each and every one showed that young disabled people want far more than just a set of wheels to move around in. Some designs were wild and wacky, others were inspired and innovative but all of them showed so much imagination and creativity. Hannah should be really proud for winning such a close-run competition.”
Presenting the awards alongside Tom, actress and campaigner Samantha Renke said: “The standard of entries was high and showed that every young person wants their wheelchair to be unique and different. There shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to mobility.
Hannah’s design stood out because of the innovative ways she wanted her wheelchair to help her navigate an inaccessible world. We hope this competition will give food for thought not just about what a wheelchair can be, but also how wider society needs to be more accessible and inclusive.”
As part of her prize Hannah receives a 3D printed model of her design created by engineering firm Frazer-Nash Consultancy.
Two runners up, Isabelle Jones, 9, and Joseph Moran, 14, from Bath, also receive photo rendered images of their designs.
The competition is part of Wheels of Change, a £1m project funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery through its Dream Fund initiative.