19 October 2018
Hannah Martin | Taranaki Daily News
Ten-year-old Thomas Morrison loves the water but, until recently, going to the beach hasn't been an option.
Thomas has a rare form of muscular dystrophy - a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass - and uses a wheelchair, which makes getting in and out of the water a struggle.
But the purchase of a new beach-accessible wheelchair will mean the Auckland boy can get back to his "happy place" and spend quality time with his family at the beach this summer, mum Louise Morrison said.
When he was younger, Morrison and husband Michael could carry Thomas from his chair across the sand and into the water. But as he's gotten older that's become more difficult.
They've even tried to pull Thomas along the beach in a trike but its wheels got stuck in the sand. "It's been very hard to get him in and out of the water ... we haven't been able to do that as a family."
Earlier this year Thomas' school went on camp to Long Bay, which happened to have a couple of old beach wheelchairs.
He spent the entire day in the water, Morrison said.
Essentially a deckchair on hard plastic, air-filled wheels, the beach-accessible chair they've bought easily rolls over soft sand and mud.
Thomas can sit in the chair in the water and can "ride the waves". It can also be used to get in and out of swimming pools.
"It opens up a whole new world for us," Morrison said.
"The ocean is his happy place and his little brother is so excited to be able to spend time with him in the water."
Because of his condition, Thomas is "profoundly weak".
He has very low muscle tone and low bone density throughout his body, Morrison said.
Not only would the wheelchair enable him to do something he loves, it was also a great physio workout as it kept his muscles and body moving, she said.
"It's really important to keep him moving, it's really good for him. If you don't use your muscles, you lose them."
The St Heliers family was given $5730 from the Mazda Foundation for the chair. It was shipped up from Hamilton, arriving last week.
"It's been very hard to get him in and out of the water."