The Parliamentary Report on Disability and Development

Today the International Development Select Committee has released its Report on Disability and Development. You can read it here

Motivation submitted evidence to the report, and we welcome the results. Whilst it does recognise recent steps the UK government has made to include disability in its programmes, it believes a more ambitious commitment is required from a donor of their size and influence.

- The main recommendation from the report is that the government needs a disability strategy with clear objectives and timetables.

- The report also recommends that the government increases its spending on rehabilitation and basic care, which includes the provision of mobility devices.

- It also highlights that only 5% of Government spending is on programmes designed to support disabled people, despite disabled people making up 15% of the global population.

David Constantine, MBE, president and co-founder of Motivation, explains why this is so crucial:

“One billion people around the world live with some sort of disability. 800 million of these people live in poverty, and around 70 million need a wheelchair. Without mobility, millions of disabled people in the developing world are unable to leave their homes, go to school, or work. Many are left to lie on the floor. Many more die from preventable complications.

That’s why Motivation provides the right wheelchair in the right way, so disabled people can stay healthy, get mobile and play an active part in their communities. Therefore we are extremely pleased that the report is calling on the Government to focus on the practical needs of disabled people in the developing world, by asking them to increase spending on assistive devices like wheelchairs.
We now urge the Government to listen.

Alongside the World Health Organisation, we helped to produce wheelchair guidelines that ensure more people in the developing world receive an appropriate wheelchair, and the right training, to meet their needs. The report points the UK Government to these guidelines, and suggests they increase the volume of wheelchairs they purchase.

We will continue to share our expertise to help support the UK government, but we call on them to take on board the recommendations of this report. Disabled people experience some of the most extreme poverty in the world, and need specific and targeted support. The Government now has an opportunity to take the lead, to ensure disabled people are no longer excluded.”

Governement urged to act now on disability – IDC REPORT Press Release

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Sport – A Game Changer

“I didn’t know disabled sport existed. Now, I realise I am capable of taking part, and I have potential. I’ve learned to respect myself… disability does not mean inability.” Fourteen-year old Vincent broke his leg. Left untreated, it turned into a permanent disability. Now, thanks to the power of sport, he’s smiling again.

Today (6th April) is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. It’s also the end of our three-year sports project in Uganda, set up to change attitudes about disability in a country still plagued with stigma.

Without mobility, millions of disabled people in the developing world are unable to leave their homes, go to school or to work. Many are left to lie on the floor. Many more die from preventable complications.

In countries like Uganda, disability is often linked to witchcraft. Parents are encouraged to abandon their disabled children or hide them away, to avoid the shame and the guilt of being seen with a disabled child.

In 2010, we set up an ‘Inclusive Sports League’, supported by Comic Relief and the Premier League, and the results prove that sport is not just about winning medals. Since then, over 500 young people, disabled and able-bodied, have come together to play a simple game of basketball.

By setting up a basketball league for all children, of all abilities and disabilities, Motivation has made disability visible. In the first two years, public events and tournaments reached over 5,000 people across 7 communities, creating a new positive image of disability.

Working with coaches and mentors, the project inspired confidence in disabled young people and their families, allowing them to realise their true potential. Almost 90 per cent of children living with disabilities in Africa do not regularly attend school.

Since the project began in 2010 more than a hundred children have enrolled in education. A simple game of wheelchair basketball, with the support of some inspirational mentors, has changed these children’s future. Now that’s the power of sport.

Oscar – an inspiration

Oscar (pictured, centre) is a wheelchair basketball coach. He lost both his legs after a landmine exploded underneath his car in 2002 and has since become a mentor to young people on the project, proving that, whatever your ability, anything is possible.

Francis – found his confidence
Thanks to Oscar, and the power of sport, Francis 15, who suffers from epilepsy (pictured, right) found the confidence to convince his father to get the right medication for his illness. He no longer has seizures. “Sport helped me to become respectable to my family.”

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Freed from Guilt…

Motivation’s Sue Fry tells us why parent and carer training is so crucial in a country where disability still carries huge stigma.

“There are many beliefs in the developing world about disability – especially cerebral palsy. Many believe that somehow it’s the mother’s fault that her child is disabled, or that she has been bewitched. This can lead to feelings of shame and guilt.

Faced with social stigma, and an additional mouth to feed – one that is often seen as a drain on the family – women are often encouraged to abandon their child.

It is very hard to change a deep belief in witchcraft, but some women can be persuaded through testimonies from other mother or parents, who have learned to understand the medical explanations of disability.

Our parent-carer training is so important. By showing women that there are other people like them and by telling them the truth about the causes of disability they are freed from the guilt and the shame that often causes them to hide or neglect their child.

Many of these children are neglected because caregivers just don’t know where to start with looking after them. Women can be left to cope alone, as husbands leave the family home, blaming their wives for their child’s disability.

“The fathers say it’s not his… men go to the hospital and say ‘You take your child, I don’t have money for such a child.’ ‘That one is hopeless.’ ‘There is no hope for that one’” Hellen, Uganda.

Hellen is just one of the women who these groups have been able to reach. Her daughter Favour is now 8 years old and doing extremely well. Hellen benefited so much from the training, she decided to become a trainer herself, helping others to see the potential in their children.

After just one session, parents feel empowered learning and sharing from fellow parents in the groups, who face the same problems as them.We show them simple techniques – like how to position their child correctly to avoid pressure sores, the best way to feed their child and how to encourage communication.

“I have learned to communicate with my child. I learn different ways of cleaning her. I learned different ways of feeding her.” Hellen, Uganda

Many children have the ability to learn but can’t communicate and are not given the opportunity of an education. We’re working hard to change these attitudes.”

Just £27 pays for one module of parent-carer training. Please help us support more women, and give their children a brighter future. Thank you.

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Meet Milly; trainer, mother and inspiration

Parent/carer trainer Milly, Uganda“My name is Milly, I have two children and I have been working as a parent/carer trainer in Uganda for four years. In that time, I have helped over a hundred mothers and fathers to care for their disabled children, and that makes me feel proud. But, for me, it goes further than that. I understand what it means to have a disabled child because my oldest son, Ponsiano (who is now 15) developed cerebral palsy after he contracted malaria at eight months old. Initially, he could not sit up, was very floppy and couldn’t eat by himself. As a result, he was very weak and, by the age of six, weighed only five kilos.

I was told that my son would not survive so I started feeding him a range of foods such as green vegetables, porridge and pumpkin leaves to improve his health and help him gain weight. When I next took him to the hospital, he weighed 15 kilos. In spite of many set-backs – including being thrown out of our family home and having to take him out of school when other children pushed him over – we have made good progress. My son can now sit up unaided and can wash himself.”

It’s because of Milly’s experiences that Motivation could see what an inspiring trainer she would make for other mothers: “I feel good about what I do because I understand the difference it makes to parents of disabled children. When we first meet mothers, they are heart-broken but when we talk, they realise they are not alone.”

Mothers like Milly often don’t know how to look after their children properly but, with our training and the support of trainers like her, they learn a range of new skills including feeding and communication.

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“This wheelchair will bring the happy feelings back to me again.”

With just three days to go until the Winter Paralympics, we’re celebrating a new wheelchair sport star in the making.

Henry Bowers, just 11 years old, has a rare degenerative disease called Friedreich’s Ataxia. The disease affects the nervous system and the heart, causing a loss of movement in the arms and legs. Most sufferers live through their childhood unaware they have the condition.

For Henry, it had a rapid onset: he left primary school needing just a stick to walk long distances, and started secondary school in a wheelchair. Whilst his friends are doing PE, Henry plays football on the computer, imagining that the players are him:

“It makes me feel sad and left out… I can’t do what everyone else can do a anymore”

“I used to play sport for three hours a day after school. When I played football it would get rid of all my bad feelings, but now when I look back it makes me feel sad. This wheelchair will bring the happy feelings back to me again.”

Not one to give up, Henry entered these heartfelt words in a competition we launched, in partnership with Scope, and he’s now the proud owner of a Motivation Multisport wheelchair. At half the price of an average sports wheelchair, that can cost over £1,000, our Multisport wheelchair means sport is now an affordable option for more young people like Henry, and their families.

Henry received his new wheelchair in a special presentation at the University of Worcester Arena, the training home of TeamGB wheelchair basketball in the run up to Rio. He has already joined a team, and had his first wheelchair training session the day after he received his new chair!

Henry’s mum, Debbie hopes it’s a turning point in what has been an incredibly difficult few months. Just two years ago she was watching him play football, now she is helping him get out of bed in the morning: “We just have to deal with Henry’s illness. It’s here, we can’t change it. Whatever the goals are at the end… they’re just different goals now aren’t they?”

We’re really looking forward to following Henry’s Multisport adventure… Reach for the stars Henry!

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Not just any wheelchair, the RIGHT wheelchair

Motivation beneficiary, VithusaraAs children in the UK return to school following their half-term break, we’d like to share Vithusara’s story about school with you, demonstrating the difference the right wheelchair can make…

Vithusara has cerebral palsy. Before he received a wheelchair from Motivation, his parents had always carried him everywhere. When it was time for him to go to school, they made him a special chair so he could sit and learn with the other children. Every day they carried him to school and put him in his special chair – before returning at the end of the day to carry him home again. Vithusara loved school but he couldn’t move around in his chair, so he couldn’t join in when his friends went out to play.

Then, one of Vithusara’s teachers told his parents about Motivation. They immediately got in touch with us, asking for a wheelchair for Vithusara. We explained that we’d need to meet him so that we could measure him and ensure that he got the right kind of wheelchair. Vithusara met us for two assessments, giving us the chance to adjust his new wheelchair to fit him properly – and giving him the chance to tell us how excited he was about going to school in it.

Today Vithusara is the proud owner of a Motivation Moti Go – a wheelchair that has been designed specifically for children with cerebral palsy. Vithusara’s Moti Go gives him the support he needs to sit up comfortably and safely. It also enables him to go out and play with his friends at break time.

This personalised approach to wheelchair fitting and training is an integral part of the current World Health Organization guidelines on wheelchair provision, in which Motivation played a contributing part. To download these guidelines, click here.

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“Now my child can sit up and feed herself”

It’s National Story Telling week and here at Motivation we have them coming out of our ears! Over the last 23 years, we’ve met some incredibly inspiring people, all of them overcoming adversity, fighting stigma, and showing us that anything is possible, despite your disability.

One of our project co-ordinators Astrid has just come back from Uganda, where the stories couldn’t be more powerful. Around one in 300 children is born with cerebral palsy. Without support, training and an appropriate wheelchair, parents struggle to care for these children. In rural villages especially, having a disabled child carries a huge stigma. Many women tell us stories of how they were put under pressure to abandon their child; some have been left by their partner, due to the burden and disgrace of having a disabled child.

“The highlight of my trip was being able to hear from the parents themselves about their experiences. Most of them were women from some of the poorest community of Uganda. Approximately 70% of them do not have electricity at home. Many of them had very sad stories to tell about being rejected by loved ones because they had a disabled child and about the sense of shame and isolation they felt.

However, they also shared wonderful stories about the support they received when they joined the parent group, and how much they had learned. No-one outside those groups can fully appreciate the sense of achievement that came from the statement “Now my child can sit up and feed herself.”

The person who really made an impression on me was Milly Oyella. I met Milly at the Layibi Division Parent Support Group monthly meeting in Gulu, northern Uganda. Milly’s son Ponsiano has cerebral palsy. After they were kicked out by Milly’s mother in law, and turned away from the hospital who said there was nothing more they could do to help, Milly was left to battle on her own to keep her child alive. And she succeeded. Milly worked hard to get Ponsiano to put on weight and developed a range of clever methods to help position him so that he could sit up and start to engage with his environment. Ponsiano is now 15 years old and has even been going to school.

I have never met anyone with as much determination as Milly has. She was the ideal person to become a facilitator and in 2009 Motivation trained Milly in how to run groups for parents of children with cerebral palsy.

Since then Milly has used her energy and determination to train over 100 parents and carers in how to care for their child. Just amazing.”

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Farming, baby-sitting and singing: Multi-tasking, Maya style

Maya, Nepal

A new wheelchair means so much more than mobility.

Yes, of course it means that a disabled person can get out and about, but what it really offers is the freedom to reach your full potential. Facing discrimination, disabled people in developing countries are commonly the poorest of the poor. All too often they are neglected; regarded as a burden by their families and local communities. The right wheelchair can change that – often catapulting disabled people out of desperate, poverty-stricken situations, and enabling them to go to school, hold down a job and care for their families.

But it has to be the right wheelchair. Second-hand or unsuitable wheelchairs are the source of many – often life-threatening – conditions. More than difficult to use and unreliable, they can be dangerous. Designed for stability and durability, Motivation’s low-cost chairs are adaptable and fitted to meet each individual’s needs; an approach which is now integral to the WHO guidelines on wheelchair provision and which makes all the difference to those who use the chairs.

For example, Maya from Nepal, who lives with her two sons and daughter-in-law, and tends to a small area of land to support her family. Ten years ago, when helping her elderly neighbours to feed their buffalo and goat – Maya fell while climbing a tree to collect foliage for the animals – and has been using a wheelchair ever since. But, in that time, she has used four different wheelchairs and they’ve all broken; leaving Maya unable to tend her land and, ultimately, to support her family.

Just before Christmas, Maya received a new Active Folding wheelchair from Motivation. This has meant she can successfully cultivate her land again, and even runs a small convenience shop from her bedroom. “I am very happy,” Maya says when explaining how her new chair is more comfortable than her former chairs.

Thanks to her fit-for-purpose, personalised chair, Maya can now look forward to a life full of hope and potential. Not least because she will soon become a grandmother for the first time, and can now help to care for her grandchild around the home. Maybe Maya – who is a popular singer on a local radio station’s ‘phone in and sing’ show – will sing some traditional folk songs to him/her when they arrive?

In 2012 alone, over 24,500 people received direct support from Motivation. In that same year, it provided over 12,500 wheelchairs, and more than 60,000 family members benefited as disabled relatives were given the opportunity to become mobile.

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Motivation beneficiary, HappyHelp someone else when you help yourself this January…

It’s good to think that our actions are making a difference, but even better if it can be achieved by simply doing the things we already do. Many clubs and societies organise gatherings and activities throughout the year and, if you are a member of a club or society, we are asking you to make Motivation a beneficiary of just one event this year – helping thousands like Happy (featured).

By way of inspiration… West Hill Golf Club in Surrey hosted a Captains’ Charity Day in August 2013 – and raised £7,500 for Motivation. Hosted by snooker player Willie Thorne, it was an opportunity for club members to get together and play golf but also have an evening of entertainment – all in the name of a good cause. The ‘Inner Wheel’ club from Nailsea took a different approach by organising a ticketed social evening in October 2013 which included a choir performance, food and a raffle – and they raised over £1,500 for Motivation.

So, if you are a member of a club or society, why not dedicate one of your meetings or activities to raising funds for Motivation? Whether your passion is golf, choral music or something entirely different, then we would like to hear from you.

To talk about your idea, contact Gemma on 01275 464012 or email For more information, click here.

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Multisport Wheelchair Winners!

Huge congratulations go out to Henry Bowers and Jamie Dawson, who won our competition to win a brand new Motivation Multisport wheelchair. Before Christmas we teamed up with leading disability charity Scope to launch the competition, and wanted to share our winners’ stories with you all:

Just this year Henry, 11, was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia and has spent the last few months in a wheelchair. As someone who used to love sport, especially football, this change of life has been really tough: “I used to play sport for three hours a day after school. When I played football it would get rid of all my bad feelings, but now when I look back it makes me feel sad.”

With his new sports wheelchair, Henry will finally be able play sport again: “I can’t wait to learn how to play wheelchair basketball!” And he’s already got his mum looking for clubs! Congratulations Henry – a wheelchair sports star in the making!

13 year old Jamie Dawson was born with no lower limbs and learnt to walk on his stumps. He now has prosthetic legs, but they make him very sore, and he gets tired easily. Using a wheelchair gives him the chance to lead an active life – like every other teenage boy.

Starting wheelchair basketball earlier this year was a huge turning point and, after just a few weeks training, he was selected to play for London under-15’s at the Copper Box! He’s obviously a natural! This new Multisport wheelchair means Jamie now has a sports chair of his very own – to help him play, train and reach for the stars!

Basketball has made me realise there is more out there for me…I am proud of myself. This is one of the best Christmas presents I have ever had, and it has made my Christmas even more special.” We can’t wait to see the talented Jamie in action on the basketball court.

We’ll be updating you on both Jamie and Henry’s progress very soon!

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