Kiama five-year-old Samson Howari has high support needs but loves getting outdoors and doing what other children his age do.
Samson has autism, global developmental delay, a speech and language disorder and has challenges with sensory processing which impacts his behaviour. He relies on his mum Lea Howari and an old wheelchair that looks like a pram to get around. But it mostly restricts him to smooth surfaces.
That was until recently when he was able to trial a new X Rover paediatric outdoor multifunctional wheelchair from Astris PME specifically designed to help children like Samson explore new outdoor environments.
Mrs Howari said during lockdown Samson has not attended Aspect school or been able to access therapy. But the X Rover provided him therapy for a week by opening up a new world and making him feel like a normal little boy. The family saw how much it meant to him by the smile on his face and they heard words he had never spoken before.
"There was a little surprise every time we went out. We were always restricted to paths before," she said.
"When we trialed it at the beach it was like a dream. It wasn't hard or heavy to push and it was great to see him be able to explore new places. He was no longer limited to where I was able to physically carry him or where his old wheelchair could go. The more we are able to provide him these opportunities to explore outside the more he was learning."
But the Howari's had to return the X Rover. Samson is an NDIS participant but it was not in his plan. After seeing the impact it made in one week the family was eager to get one before Christmas.
Mrs Howari started a GoFundMe campaign and is hoping to raise $15,000 towards the purchase of a custom-made wheelchair with all the attachments that will help Samson tackle different terrains safely. She said the X Rover also helped transform his big sister Laila's life.
"She is a typical eight-year-old but she hasn't been able to do many things because Samson requires so much support. When we had the X Rover she was able to scoot on ahead and we would try to catch up. It felt as a family we had a little taste of normal.
"You appreciate those little things that most people take for granted. The day I handed the X Rover back I was ready to cry. We've pretty much worn down the wheels of our old wheelchair. With the X Rover you can attach different wheels so you can fit a bike attachment, you can push it as a jogger and you can go on sand. It gave him the opportunity to do things that were fun.
"He said the word 'fast' for the first time because he wanted to go faster. Sometimes his diagnosis is very confronting but it made me realise there is more potential for him. We love him and want the best for him. And give him every opportunity other children have."