Two-year-old with cerebral palsy enjoys beach for the first time thanks to specialized wheelchair



Cerebral palsy has been known to cause hypersensitivity, which may make certain textures, sounds or crowded environments feel overwhelming. It also results in tense and rigid muscles that make walking very challenging. Two-year-old Joey Leathwood, who has cerebral palsy, was recently able to enjoy beach waters for the first time, thanks to a specialized wheelchair. The wheelchair, which costs more than $3,700, has a headrest and harness to enable those with movement disorders, including cerebral palsy, to sit upright. Additionally, it includes large, heavy-duty plastic "balloon" wheels that can move through water without getting stuck and can glide over the top of the sand.
In a touching video, the Sheffield native can be seen enjoying Skegness Beach in Lincolnshire, U.K., on Friday. In the video shared by Joey's mother, Helen Butterfield, a wave crashes onto the beach as Joey laughs, according to DailyMail. The boy squeals with delight as his dad gently rocks the chair and his mom giggles behind the camera. Joey cannot care for himself and has severe sensory impairments, Helen, his full-time caregiver, said. The wheelchair was rented to the family for free by BeachAbility, a neighborhood charity that focuses on mobility for the disabled.


Joey's mother shares that he "doesn't like certain textures, such as grass, sand, snow, and fluffy things," so the family normally does not go to the beach very often. It makes Joey sick "if he can't process a feeling and he just ends up stuck in his pushchair far away from the sea." But, Joey really loves the water a lot, wrote Helen on her Facebook post. "My boy loves water so much and although he can't support his body enough to sit unaided, today he went in the sea for the first time at nearly three years old, and honestly he has never laughed so much." Helen said that the wheelchair gave him the body support he needed, and "it was so easy to push over the sand and of course go into the water." She said, "It was also a good barrier for him to not have to touch any sand."
Joey was able to play in the sea for the first time with his brother Connor, 11, and sister Maisie, 8, "instead of feeling left out and different." He also loved watching the waves splashing over the top of the chair but still felt safe. "With him being unable to sit up it's impossible to play with my other kids and have Joey be part of it until we hired the Hippocampe beach wheelchair from BeachAbility," Helen shared. “It was probably one of the most special moments of my life, seeing his reaction,” Helen said, according to The Independent.
"I honestly can't praise the group enough and wish there had been equipment like this available years ago as it would have helped so many people." Helen said, "For anybody that lives with disabilities themselves or loved ones, please give BeachAbility Ingoldmells Beach Wheelchairs a try. My boy loves water so much and although he can't support his body enough to sit unaided, today he went in the sea for the first time at nearly three years old, and honestly he has never laughed so much. This group has given so many people of all ages the chance to be 'beside the seaside' and I can't thank them enough. It's given my boy the chance to experience waves and Mother Nature's beauty instead of feeling left out and different."




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