A TEENAGER who cannot speak has been given a voice.
Thirteen-year-old Shaun Powders, from Holmfirth, was born with a defect which left him brain damaged, suffering epilepsy and with cerebral palsy.
He can only use his right hand, is unable to form words and has to rely on signs to tell his parents when he is in pain or to make his needs known.
He was becoming increasingly frustrated as others could not understand him.
Things were looking up when Shaun successfully trialled a new picture-based communication system.
But when Shaun’s family asked if he could have one they were told it was not funded by public money.
Instead they turned to the charity, Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, for help.
Shaun has now been given his ‘voice’ thanks to the efforts of North Yorkshire fundraiser Christine Gilkes.
Christine tackled a 192-mile coast-to-coast walk from Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay near Whitby, to raise cash towards the youngster’s new equipment.
The communication system, which was delivered earlier this month, is known as PECS and will enable him to interact with others and enhance personal relationships.
Shaun’s dad, Mark, said: “Shaun really struggles to make himself understood.
“This new communication system will be a huge benefit for him.”
The equipment cost £1,800 of which Christine raised just over £600.
She said: “The walk was initially conceived as a personal challenge and became so much more when I had a real purpose to aim for.”
Newlife has funded 163 items of specialist disability equipment, totalling £196,059, for children in West Yorkshire.
Christine’s fundraising challenge has also enabled an eight-year-old girl in Hull to have a portable ‘safe bed’ so she can go on family sleep-overs with her sister and on holiday.
If you think you can help other disabled and terminally ill children in Yorkshire, the Newlife fundraising team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640.