Longton teen supports charity on Giving Tuesday

Longton teen supports charity on Giving Tuesday
Longton teen supports charity on Giving Tuesday

Longton teen supports charity on Giving Tuesday

A disabled teenager from Longton, in Stoke-on-Trent, is asking people to support a Staffordshire based children’s charity to mark Giving Tuesday, on the 3rd December, 2019.

Created in 2012 Giving Tuesday is a day where everyone, everywhere, is encouraged to do something to support the good causes that mean so much to them.

Over £7.8 million was raised in online donations in the UK on Giving Tuesday in 2018, whilst 1.5 million people said they were more likely to do something for charity as a result of the day.

Amongst other things people can volunteer time, donate money, or organise community events to support a cause close to their heart.

This year 17-year-old Dylan Kellsall, a student at Newcastle-under-Lyme College, is asking people to support Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, as part of their ‘Help A Child Believe’ campaign to mark Giving Tuesday.

“Caudwell Children is very special to me as they’ve helped me to believe in myself and to achieve so much in my life,” explained Dylan, who has Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy. “When I was young I lacked a bit of confidence and I didn’t go out of the house as much as I should have.

“Then I discovered wheelchair football and I immediately took to it and I played as often as I could.

“Initially I had to borrow a specialist sports wheelchair from my local club but that wasn’t ideal as it didn’t fit me properly, and I was at a disadvantage to the other players.

“What I needed was my own sports wheelchairs, one that suited my size and physique.”

Unfortunately, there was a financial barrier to Dylan’s parents buying a sports wheelchair for him as the one that best suited his needs cost over £5,000.

“That was way outside the budget of my parents and I was resigned to giving up the game I’d begun to love,” reflected Dylan. “But then my dad was told that Caudwell Children provided funding for specialist sports equipment.

“He got in touch with the charity and applied for the wheelchair that I needed and I couldn’t believe it when, a few weeks later, we got a letter to say that they would pay 80% of the cost.

“That was one of the best days of my life!”

Dylan has since flourished in the sport and has become a star player for St George’s Knights Powerchair Football Club, who compete in the top tier of wheelchair football, the MDUK Premier League.

Not only that at 14 Dylan was selected to play for England’s Under-16 wheelchair football team helping them to win the Home Nations Championship in the process.

Dylan’s father, Warren, says that Caudwell Children has been instrumental in his son’s development. As he explained: “Without the charity’s support Dylan’s self-esteem and confidence wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are now.

“The specialist wheelchair that they funded gave Dylan the belief that he could go on and succeed in the sport. 

“Football has also made Dylan feel so much better about himself, he’s come out of his shell and that’s all down to the support of the charity.”

Warren was keen to stress that Caudwell Children has also helped the family in other ways. He said: “A few years ago we had the house adapted to meet Dylan’s needs.

“Obviously this was quite a stressful process but Caudwell Children’s Family Support team provided a number of volunteers, on a regular basis, to take Dylan and his brothers out to the park or to activity groups.

“This really took the stress out of the situation as it gave me and my wife more time to get the house sorted.

“They’ve been simply magnificent over the years and they deserve the publics support.”

Warren says that the charity hasn’t just been there for Dylan, they’ve support many children in the powerchair football community. “Most of the boys and young men who play for St George’s Knights have been supported by Caudwell Children, as have many who play in the National Leagues,” he enthused. “They’ve believed in these young athletes and enabled elite and grass roots wheelchair football to thrive.

“On a personal note I’m hoping that Dylan gets selected for the National pathway this year, which could see him getting a call up for the full international squad, which would be a dream come true for him.

“But none of this would have been possible without the support of Caudwell Children.”

Trudi Beswick, CEO of Caudwell Children, is delighted that the charity has had such a positive impact on Dylan and his family but says that there is still much more work to be done. As she explained: “There are 800,000 disabled children in the UK, and 19 out of 20 families do not have access to the equipment that they need.

“2,000 babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year and every 30 minutes a child or young person will acquire a brain injury.

“There are so many children that need our support and Giving Tuesday can help us to change so many more lives in a single day.

“We believe in each and every family we work with and on Giving Tuesday our ‘Help A Child Believe’ campaign is helping the public to understand that.

“By supporting our campaign, and funding a short break activity day, an autism assessment, or a piece of specialist equipment, you will be helping the children that we support to believe that they can have a happy, active and independent future.” 

Find out which of Caudwell Children’s services you can support on Giving Tuesday here. 

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