NGO drive seeks to fund wheelchair for disabled kids

Special chairs, which are maneuvered with the hands and head, cost NIS 70,000, which most families can't afford.

January 8, 2013 04:15
3 minute read.
Special electronic wheelchair for disabled kids

Disabled child in special wheelchair 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Chimes)


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Chimes, an NGO whose goal is to develop and provide innovative services to individuals with special needs, recently launched a new campaign aimed at collecting donations to help fund a special electronic wheelchair for children with disabilities who are treated in their center in Modi’in.

These special chairs, which are maneuvered with the hands and head, require the children to undergo special training in order to learn how to use them.

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Today, the Health Ministry, which possess some of these chairs, has created a program in which a disabled child can borrow the chair for six months through organizations like Chimes. During that half-year, Chimes helps him learn how to operate it, enabling the child to practice regularly with an occupational therapist.

After the lending period is over, however, kids have to return the borrowed wheelchair so that the next child in line can begin their training.

To be eligible to receive such a chair permanently, children are required to pass a test that shows they know how to use it.

The cost of such an electronic wheelchair is up to NIS 70,000, which most families cannot afford.

Chimes launched the campaign with the goal of purchasing their own chair, so kids in their specialized center will be able to rotate in using it and not have to return it after six months.

Ravit Shahar Lahav, an occupational therapist working at Chimes’s Or Center Habilitation Day Care, Kindergarten and Special Education School for Children with Developmental Delays in Modi’in, explained that the half-year period can often be too short for a child to master the use of the chair.

Shahar Lahav has been working for the past few months with six-year-old Ido, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, and said that while he has made great progress in operating the chair, she is not sure whether his skills will be developed enough to pass the required test.

“What the Health Ministry is doing is a very good project, I have no complaints about that, but it is quite a short lending period,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

“I see this chair as very important. The subject of independence in mobility is a basic right,” she added. “When I work with Ido, I can tell he is happy when we take him to use the chair. Sometimes, we will tell him to be careful not to bump into the wall and we started seeing him doing it anyway, on purpose, because it is amusing to him, which makes me smile. I think it says a lot about the progress he has made.”

“This chair [serves as] these kids’ legs and it is definitely difficult for them when they have to give it back,” she continued.

“This chair is very expensive, and we can’t purchase it for Chimes’s Or Center, so we are trying to collect donations in order to buy one for our kids,” Chimes Israel executive director Jorge Zimmermann explained. “To do that we are using the ‘Will to Wheel’ page on Facebook and contacting some private donors we are in touch with.”

“It’s very important to train the kids to use it so they can pass the Health Ministry’s evaluation. We help them do that with the professionals and with the facilities and space to do so,” he added.

“Going to the test without training is like taking a driving test without taking driving lessons.”

According to Chimes, four children are currently waiting to use the chair, which sometimes has to go to other organizations who are above it on the waiting list.

So far, the Will to Wheel page has managed to collect about half of the cost of the device.

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