UWTSD graduate Keira Gwynn helps a little girl to smile again by designing a specialist chair with Denmark-based Company R82, which allows her to play alongside her siblings and friends

19.12.2016

UWTSD graduate Keira Gwynn has helped put a smile on a little girl’s face in time for Christmas by creating a specialist chair that allows Evie to sit, play and eat alongside her family and school friends.

girl and designer

Evie Hopkins was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia at just four months old. It affects her right side and she is unable to sit independently without tipping over; which affects her confidence and causes the now 7-year-old anxiety.

It has meant she has missed out on family meal and play times with her brothers and sisters, trips to the beach and school friends’ birthday parties.

But thanks to a product, called the Scallop, a specialist chair, which was designed and developed with specialist supplier R82 by Keira, a graduate of the Product Design BA and MA at UWTSD, Evie can now happily play alongside her siblings and peers.

R82, is based in Denmark and produces specialist high quality aids designed for children and teenagers with disabilities all over the world.

Evie’s Mum, Karen Hopkins said: “Evie has made great strides when you consider her starting point – her prognosis was that she would be unable to walk, would have to communicate through a computerised aid and fed through a tube. Evie has achieved many of these feats; yet sitting independently has yet to be accomplished.

“Evie’s communication skills are well developed and she desperately wants to take part in everything around her. Evie has not been able to take part in many activities that are important to her, such as playing board and computer games with her brothers and sisters. Going out for meals has been an issue too as it has involved Evie sitting on the end of a table due to limited room for manoeuvring her wheelchair.”

Mrs Hopkins said that although the family lives close to many beautiful beaches and they enjoy water sports and beach activities, they hadn’t visited it as much. “This was because it was a bit boring for Evie since most of the time an adult had to prop her between their legs,” she added. “It meant we couldn’t play with Evie to the degree that would be beneficial to her – building sandcastles, digging etc. The alternatives we have previously tried, such as sitting Evie on a child’s beach chair have resulted in Evie toppling over when she reaches to do something.”

Mrs Hopkins said the introduction of the Scallop has been life changing for Evie. “She is now able to actively participate in many activities which weren’t previously possible. She sits in the Scallop on a normal chair at the table and plays a variety of games with her brothers and sisters. It’s so lovely to see her finally doing that,” she said.

Mrs Hopkins said Evie especially loves playing computer games with her brothers and for the first time ever, she now sits on the floor with confidence. “Evie is able to concentrate on what she is doing rather than worrying and panicking about whether she is able to maintain position,” she added.

Evie has also been able to use the Scallop in school and it is particularly useful during circle time and music. “Previously, Evie would be sitting in her wheelchair or specialist seat (which looks like a baby’s highchair) and would be on a higher level than her friends, who would sit on the carpet,” said her mum.  “Now Evie is sat on the floor with alongside them all, playing instruments and talking, which makes her feel fully included. The school has reported that Evie “Is more engaged”.