Andrew tests drives his new wheelchair
By SAM BENGERsamb@gladstoneobserver.com.au
THERE'S no stopping Andrew Hayman now. The sprightly 13-year-old Tannum Sands boy has received his new, custom-made wheelchair at his home after funds raised by local community groups and businesses helped purchase it late last year.
'I was pretty excited when I got it,' Andrew, who has suffered brittle bone disease since birth, said yesterday.
'I can't wait to get it to school and be able to do what I want.'
Andrew said he figured out how to use the new chair in a matter of minutes, testing it through its three speeds and finding about about the different functions it has, which include a warning button and recliner.
'This one isn't as loud and uncomfortable as my old one ? I like the fact that it goes pretty fast ? Dad can't keep up with me when I go full speed,' he said.
Andrew's Dad, Brad Long, said the new wheelchair had given Andrew a new-found independence and a new lease on life.
'He's missed out on being independent because his last chair wasn't really working, so this is a big difference for him, it will mean he's able to go to school by himself and come home when he feels like it, and bring some mates over ? he likes doing his own thing, so the new chair will let him do that,' Brad said.
Brad and Andrew took the new chair for a test drive to Tannum Sands State High School on Saturday to ensure the batteries would last the distance there and back and allow him to get around under his own steam at school.
'Everyone saw us walking to school and it was really good ? everyone was rapt ? a few people stopped and said 'Oh, you've got the new chair, gee it's pretty flash' and things like that, so that was great that people knew we had it,' he said.
Brad said the Gladstone community, and in particular the people of Tannum Sands, had been 'amazing'.
'We don't get out that much and I guess people didn't really know Andy until now; now everyone knows him and he loves it, he thinks it's great,' Brad said.
Brad said Andrew had chosen every aspect of his new wheelchair, from the style and make of the seat to the deep red colour of the frame.