7 year-old Quiniece Philander received a motorised wheelchair from the Rachel Swart Fund in February 2016. Born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a condition that affects her joints and restricts her movement, she was unable to walk, sit independently, or actively participate in day-to-day activities.
In 2015, Quiniece attended the Sean Kelly Special Day-Care Centre in Worcester, where she received physical therapy and was assessed for possible placement in educational institutions for 2016. “It was established that Quiniece had normal cognition,” said therapist Nicolette Labuschagne in an evaluation conducted by the Fund, and that, with the benefit of a motorised wheelchair, she could attend a mainstream primary school.
However, motorised wheelchairs are extremely expensive – at about R 25 000 for the most basic chair – and Quiniece’s mother was unable to afford the device herself. Due to her condition, standard wheelchairs provided little assistance for Quiniece, and without a proper device, she could only roll herself along the floor. Labuschagne approached the Rachel Swart Fund in May 2015, and once the application was approved, Quiniece was fitted for a custom motorised wheelchair courtesy of CE Mobility.
“[Quiniece can move around independently and ‘runs’ around on the playground with her friends.”
Since receiving her chair, Quiniece has entered Grade 1 at Worcester Preparatory School. An aide from the Sean Kelly Day-Care Centre walks her to school every morning and accompanies her throughout the day. According to Labuschagne, “[Quiniece’s] new motorised wheelchair has added so much enjoyment to her life. She can move around independently and ‘runs’ around on the playground with her friends.”
Receiving the chair has also impacted Quiniece’s family and community. On weekends, she can now accompany her family on outings, and she is often seen by neighbours ‘running’ alongside her mother on the sidewalk. “The community seems to be interested in Quiniece’s progression at school and her general well-being,” Labuschagne continued. Her mother’s employer, PA Venter even manufactured a wooden commode – a seat that fits over the toilet – to improve her access to the bathroom at school.
Quiniece has become an inspiration within her community. Her schoolmates and teachers have watched as she tackled obstacles head-on, and the headmaster of Worcester Prep even arranged for her to speak about overcoming challenges at a local old-age home.
For Quiniece, and many others like her, motorised wheelchairs are essential to success. Without an adequate assistive device, she would have been unable to attend a mainstream primary school, and may have slipped behind her peers. Now, there’s no stopping her.
In order to continue our work and reach more beneficiaries like Quiniece, we rely on the generous donations of foundations, corporates and individuals alike. To donate to the Rachel Swart Fund, please visit our donations page.