Taskers2Disabled twins Orlanda and Marissa Tasker, aged 15 from Brighton, have been able to continue their pursuit of catering qualifications, thanks to a double Balder powered wheelchair donation from a leading children’s charity.
Orlanda and Marissa were born with Cerebral Palsy, which is a neurological conditions that affects movement and co-ordination and hence both require extra care from their mother, Sharon. The twins have used a powered wheelchair since the age of three however as they have grown up, their desire for greater independence has become stronger. Their basic NHS electric and manual wheelchairs were not providing the adequate mobility and versatility both the girls needed, especially at school, so Sharon needed to find a more specialist alternative. The cutting-edge powerchair model that appeared to be the answer was the Scandinavian-built Balder F290 from Etac – first seen by the Taskers when attending an X-Factor concert in Brighton.

Sharon explains: “When we were at an X-Factor tour show, we sat next to a disabled young lad who was sitting in an amazing-looking electric wheelchair. We got chatting to him and he showed us all the functionality of his cutting-edge Balder chair, which provided a huge variety of seated positions. As my girls can’t walk or stand un-aided, they already used powered wheelchairs for daily mobility however access under tables, school desks and reaching in cupboards was difficult. With its really varied actions, the Balder could help with all of these common situations, however we couldn’t afford to purchase one of them, let alone two. It was at this point I spoke to my Occupational Therapist who recommended that I applied to a selection of charities in the hope of receiving a donation. I could see on a daily basis Orlanda and Marissa were struggling at home, especially accessing parts of the kitchen, and this lack of mobility meant learning at school was hard. With a keen interest in cooking and their desire to achieve qualifications in catering, I wrote to a children’s charity to explain our situation.”

The powered wheelchairs Sharon applied for were both the same model – the Balder F290 with standing functionality. These trusted wheelchairs would give Orlanda and Marissa the ability to visit Brighton independently with friends and access more areas of their mainstream state school, Blatchington Mill in Hove. The F290 has a vast array of functionality in-built that includes a seat recline, raise/lower and tilt forward, along with high levels of manoeuvrability when driving. The standing function could provide health benefits for both twins through improved circulation, posture and reduced pressure. Eye-to-eye engagement with standing, able-bodied people would also be possible – crucial for many wheelchair users to feel more equal.

Sharon continues: “Following a visit from one of charity’s representatives, I am delighted to say that our application was a success. They agreed to provide funds that would help us purchase two Balder electric wheelchairs that would change the girls’ lives forever. We received a visit from one of Etac’s product specialists who assessed Orlanda and Marissa’s individual needs and to check that the Balder F290 was the ideal powered wheelchair for them. Etac’s detailed prescription was sent to the charity who gave approval for these state-of-the-art chairs to be hand-built in Norway – the girls were even lucky enough to request Porsche-style metallic gold and silver paint work! When the chairs arrived last month they were absolutely over the moon – what a difference they have made.”

Sharon added: “I can now confidently let them go into Brighton on the bus independently and school life and transportation is so much easier. The Balder battery life gives them extended range and peace of mind, plus as we live on a steep hill, going to the local shop is no hassle as these powerchairs have superb performance and traction. Attempting to go out in a manual wheelchair or using their previous powerchairs was always a scary prospect and very tiring…not any more. The girls can enjoy the outdoors now and in terms of their education, there is no holding them back from fulfilling the ambitions in the kitchen.”

Orlanda concluded: “I know I can’t do much for myself, but my Balder has given me independence outside to enjoy shopping in town with my mates. I don’t worry about getting stuck as the battery life is so great and I’m not as tired after being out. Thanks Etac for improving my life, and my Sister’s so much too.”