CITY girl, Jessica Dowdeswell is now able to enjoy more activities with her friends thanks to a specialist wheelchair donated by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.
The ten year old has Bilateral Proximal Focal Deficiency – a rare birth defect that affects pelvic and leg bone development.
As a result, Jessica had both feet amputated in 2006 and has had numerous surgeries since.
She can now wear prosthetic legs but only with the assistance of crutches and for short distances.
Jessica was outgrowing her previous wheelchair and was not eligible for statutory services for another two years.
The new wheelchair, provided by a partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer, has given Jessica increased independence, especially during the weekends and school holidays.
Jo Dowdeswell, Jessica’s mum, said: “The new wheelchair is fantastic and everything is going brilliantly.
“It is narrower than Jess’s previous chair so it fits through doorways much more easily.
“The additional hand-crank means it doubles up as a bike, which gives her more opportunities to get around.
“For instance, it meant she was able to take part in her school’s recent Sport Relief mile challenge and be just like all her friends. Opportunities like that make all the difference.”
Jessica added: “It’s great to have a new chair because it gives me more freedom and I can go out whenever I want to. I especially love the colour — blue is my favourite.”
M&S has worked in partnership with the Newlife charity for the last ten 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 Cannock and the charity recycles the remaining items to raise money for children with disabilities.
In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund 176 pieces of essential equipment, totalling more than £518,000 for disabled children across the UK.