Monday, 15 July 2024
UK Charity Week 2024 - Sponsored by Sinclair Method UK
Monday, 15 July 2024

Children Today: Beach days are finally a go-go for Olivia for the first time in a decade

Children Today: Beach days are finally a go-go for Olivia for the first time in a decade14-year-old Olivia Robinson has been able to visit the beach this summer for the first time in over a decade thanks to an all-terrain wheelchair.

Olivia – who her dad describes as someone who ‘lights up the room’ – was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy as an infant and is a full-time wheelchair user.

The teenager, from Newport, had been unable to access the beach since she was a toddler, but thanks to funding for an all-terrain wheelchair from Children Today Charitable Trust and several other charities, Olivia is finally able to fully enjoy seaside jaunts once again! 

Her dad, Daniel Robinson, said:

“Olivia has had a tough journey. Being born ten weeks prematurely we knew there was a chance it may affect her development and at about 18 months old she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is such an umbrella term, though, that even then it was difficult to know what that meant for her. So we had to take each day as it came. 

“Over the years she’s braved several operations to help reduce stiffness caused by her cerebral palsy and to correct hip displacement. She’s also recently been diagnosed with scoliosis – curvature of the spine. It’s been hard on her and the recovery process has been a long road. 

“But Olivia doesn’t let anything stand in her way. She’s got such a thirst for life. Sometimes her ambition and determination can almost feel like a poisoned chalice, though, as ultimately she is restricted by her physical capabilities. However, we have always been determined to give her the best possible lifestyle and allow her the freedom to grow up and develop like any other little girl, especially as she gets older.” 

Since receiving her all-terrain wheelchair, Olivia has been able to be more independent and have the freedom to go to places she previously was unable to enjoy, including the seaside.

Daniel continued:

“As a child, Olivia always loved the beach, but as she got older it almost seemed unfair to take her to the seaside as she wanted to be able to go on the beach and enjoy playing like all the other children. But anyone who’s ever tried to push a wheelchair over sand will know how hard it is!

“We started to avoid the beach, as often it felt like we were dangling the thing she loved in front of her, but she wasn’t able to fully enjoy it. The last time she’d really enjoyed a day at the beach was as a toddler when she was small enough for me to carry her. 

“Now, she can go right up to the water’s edge and she’s completely in control herself, she doesn’t even need our help. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve visited the coast since she’s had the new wheelchair. I honestly can’t tell you how much joy the sound of her giggling away as she whizzes along the beach brings me.

“Living in Wales, we have plenty of amazing beaches and mountains on our doorstep and it’s an ambition of Olivia’s to be able to climb a mountain someday. This wheelchair makes that a possibility!”

The off-road wheelchair has also allowed Olivia more opportunities to practice her skills manoeuvring herself in a powered wheelchair as well, which will in time give her even greater independence.

Daniel explained:

“Olivia can be a bit nervous when using her powered wheelchair in crowded spaces, so her off-road wheelchair is really good for her as it means she can practice and improve her skills. It’s really helping to improve her confidence, which is such a boost for her mental health too!”

Emma Prescott, charity director at Children Today, added:

“It’s very easy to take something as simple as a trip to the seaside for granted, but for Olivia and many others with a disability, the opportunity to enjoy the beach can be fraught with difficulty.

“Thankfully, equipment like all-terrain wheelchairs and off-road buggies provide better access not just to the beach, but also to other rough terrain like woodlands and hilly walks, but they do come with a high price tag due to the specialist nature of the equipment. Being able to get out and about is so important for our mental health and we firmly believe that you simply can’t put a price on having the freedom to do the things that bring you happiness.” 

To find out more about children today, to apply for support or to make a donation, please visit: www.childrentoday.org.uk.  

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