Whangarei mums in bid to get disabled kids out and about

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Jo Ellis with Harvey, on the new track around their home at Waikaraka. Photo / John Stone
Jo Ellis with Harvey, on the new track around their home at Waikaraka. Photo / John Stone

Two Whangarei mums and a disability service are aiming to raise funds for three all-terrain buggy wheelchairs so children with mobility issues can enjoy the great outdoors.

With Friday being the International Day of People with Disability, it is a timely reminder that disabled children and their families often don't have the equipment to access scenic Northland.

Even the Town Basin Loop and the Waimahanga walkway/cycleway can be inaccessible for some.

Jo Ellis, Lisa Reed and the charity NorthAble plan to change that by raising $7500 for the three all-terrain wheelchairs for Northland families living with disability to use.

It has not yet been decided where the buggies will be kept and how they will be booked, but Ms Ellis said having them available will enhance the region's attraction for families looking for disability-friendly holiday venues.

Ms Ellis' son Harvey, 9, got a conventional wheelchair five years ago to assist him getting around but it has limitations when it comes to fast-paced activity or uneven terrain.

"We do our best to be active together but there are always challenges," Ms Ellis said. "I've always had to exercise without Harvey as his wheelchair is not suitable for a long or brisk walk, or over slightly more challenging terrain.

"It would be great to see families exercising and enjoying the community together and removing another barrier to what many may take for granted."

Lisa Reed's 12-year-old Katie, the oldest of three children, was diagnosed with bronchiectasis four years ago.

"Having a child with bronchiectasis has been life-changing," Ms Reed said. "We used to be a very active family, enjoying sports and entering events. Something like the all-terrain buggy would be perfect so we could have the opportunity to partake in family events together again."

NorthAble and the two families are calling on individuals and businesses to boost accessibility for disabled children by donating toward the buggies. People can help through www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/summeroffreedom. Raffle tickets are also being sold at a number of outlets.

Meanwhile, Harvey Ellis is enjoying the great outdoors at home, thanks to Onerahi Lions' and several Whangarei business' support in landscaping the section into a level, safe and exciting play area.

"It has changed Harvey's life," Ms Ellis said.

"It's not only somewhere he can now safely be outside, his friends love coming here to play outside with him."

Harvey and his mum hosted a Grand Prix themed, outdoors afternoon party on Sunday to thank the Lions for the project.

- Northern Advocate

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