Teenager's life transformed

PUBLISHED: 16:29 22 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 March 2010

A BRAVE teenager who was born with cerebral palsy has told of how his life has been transformed since he received a new state-of-the-art powered wheelchair.

A BRAVE teenager who was born with cerebral palsy has told of how his life has been transformed since he received a new state-of-the-art powered wheelchair.

Alex Wilson, of Church Close, Kesgrave, can now play basketball, cricket and even tennis thanks to his new Powertec F45 wheelchair, which was provided by national children's charity Whizz-Kidz.

The high-tech chair means he no longer has to rely on parents and friends to push him when he wants to enjoy a social evening with friends, and now has a greater sense of independence.

The 14-year-old Northgate High School pupil, who enjoys drama and is hoping to secure a place in the Suffolk Youth Theatre, was given the wheelchair at the beginning of the summer to increase his involvement in school activities.

Since then Alex, who has a 10-year-old sister called Sophie, has seen dramatic improvements in not only the amount of sports he can take part in, but also in the way people treat him.

"I can now go out on my own or just phone a friend and ask them whether they want to meet up because before there had to be an arrangement so that I could have someone to push me," he said.

"When I used to be in a manual wheelchair I used to go into a shop and the assistant would talk to the person who was pushing me which I found offensive. It was like I wasn't there.

"It makes life so much easier now because the chair incorporates a level of independence that you cannot get with a manual because you always have to have a parent or a friend there."

Alex's condition means that the muscle tone in his legs is poor and as a result he can only walk assisted for short distances. He also has only moderate upper body strength, which makes it almost impossible for him to self-propel himself in a manual chair.

Alex has attended a mainstream school since the age of five and said he was extremely impressed with the way in which Northgate had catered for disabled pupils.

"It's a great school because the whole building has been adapted for wheelchairs and it's the best access in a school I have ever come across," he said.

"The school has made so many adaptations of all sports for me so I can take part. I can join in with volleyball and even cricket and it amazes me how many ways they can adapt games.

"Some days I go into a PE lesson and think to myself: 'Oh no, we're doing rounders and I won't be able to join in' and then the teacher comes along and says: 'We've adapted it'. I've never felt left out."

Alex, who is a season ticket holder at Ipswich Town, said he rarely encountered any problems with children teasing him because of his disability.

He explained that he was nervous when he first started at Northgate because he knew he would be meeting people other than those he had grown up with at Rushmere Primary School, but admits the transfer went much smoother than he imagined.

"Everyone is so supportive there," he said. "You get the occasional new person who starts off being a bit wary but as soon as they take the time to get to know you they are fine."

Alex, who is currently studying for 10 GCSEs and is planning to study A-Levels at sixth form, was due to be one of dozens of disabled youngsters to attend a special conference in Hackney in London today.

The event is being run by charity Whizz-Kidz, which provides mobility equipment that is not available on the NHS, and will see teenagers across the country talking about their disabilities.

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