SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Pooja Pratap suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition that has not made her life easy.
But the presentation of a new wheelchair by the Fiji National University's College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences will make her life a bit more easier now.
Cerebral palsy is a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, mainly in the various areas of body development.
Pooja was obviously excited when she received her new wheelchair from the university on Monday.
The FNU is working with its partners, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) in Australia and the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Fiji in distributing the wheelchairs.
Until last year, Pooja was carried around by her mother Sashi Lata, who has tried to make her life as simple and normal like others.
After joining the Hilton Special School last year, Pooja was blessed to be given her first wheelchair which made life a bit simpler for her family. But even that still required Pooja constant monitoring and assistance.
With the wheelchair, Pooja can move around with no or little assistance. The wheelchair, made in Indonesia by people with a disability, under a United Cerebral Palsy and Wheels for Humanity (UCPWFH) project, is specially fitted for Pooja from the footrest, tray to even harness support.
"All these years Pooja has needed someone to help her move around, either on her old wheelchair or being carried around," said Mrs Lata.
"But this new specially made wheelchair makes life so much easier, she can move around on her own and you can just tell from the smile on her face just how happy she is.
"The harness support prevents her from slipping off the wheelchair and will also help her develop a stronger, straighter posture," she said. Pooja and her schoolmate Ashlyn Sami, 10, who also suffers from cerebral palsy were two of 40 children with disabilities who are being given new wheelchairs.
"What makes these wheelchairs so special is that it is made for children with disabilities for higher support so that they can sit up and it gives them a lot more posture.
"It enables them to do things they couldn't do before," Jill Maginnity, international program manager of CPA said.
The CPA and CMNHS will be busy assembling the wheelchairs until next week.
The 40 wheelchairs which costs close to $25,000, are manual chairs for children or small-size adults and they come in three sizes: small (30-35cm), medium (30-40cm) and large sizes (35-40cm) and can be adapted to suit the individual specification of each child's sitting needs.
CMNHS media, marketing and communications officer Irene Miller said, "We would like to invite corporate houses to also partner on this community project to see how more disabled children and their families can be given access to wheelchairs to help ensure an improved quality of life."