A SPECIALIST lightweight wheelchair will help future para-athlete Anya Waugh get around school, where her sporting ambition can thrive.
The eleven-year-old from Laburnum Avenue, Stalybridge, has ambitions of studying sports science and is a wheelchair racer in her spare time – she is already the fastest under-11 in the UK so the bright lights of the Paralympics await.
In the meantime, Anya, who has been a member of Stockport Harriers for four years, is struggling to get around Hyde Community College with her current wheelchair, which she finds heavy and cumbersome.
Anya has Spina Bifida, a condition she was born with that means she is paralysed from the knees down. She also experiences weakness in her hips, so she uses her wheelchair at all times.
Her mum, Nicola, said: “Anya is a very determined child – she has a strong, clear idea of what she wants to do – but having the wrong equipment is holding her back.
“She has a lot more ground to cover now she is at secondary school but having to propel her old chair, which is very heavy, is tiring for her.
“We are hoping that a lightweight chair will allow Anya to have the independence she craves as she grows.”
A partnership between Newlife, the charity for disabled children, and Marks & Spencer is providing Anya with the £1,495 she needs for her wheelchair.
Anya, a former pupil at Yew Tree primary, Dukinfield, said: “I’m really excited about using the new lightweight chair.
“It will mean I will be able to move more freely and independently around school and when I am with my friends.”
It was London 2012 that inspired Anya to become a para-athlete and he parents Nicola and Chris took her to a sports festival in Sheffield where she tried out disabled sports.
But it was athletics that became her choice and Anya now races over 100m, 200m and 400m.
Chris added training four times a week and competing is costly and the family would welcome sponsorship.
The family can be contacted through Anya’s website at: anyawaugh.co.uk
M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife for the last 11 years, donating returned products to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife superstore in Staffordshire, and the charity
recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities.
In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has helped fund more than 260 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £850,000, for children with disabilities and terminal illness across the UK.
Kirsty Williams, store manager at M&S Ashton Moss, said: “We’re always looking for ways to support our local community so it’s extremely rewarding for our team to see Anya provided with this lighter wheelchair and know what a positive impact it will have.”
Sheila Brown OBE, chief executive of Newlife, added: “Our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children and their families.
“It is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK.
“Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives.
“We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”