Snow days are used as a great excuse for local children to get out and play in the wintry weather – and one Donegal schoolboy has come up with an enterprising idea.
Paul Doherty, aged 8, from Killygordon, was inspired this week to adapt his electric wheelchair into a snow plough. The snow-clearing machine has been kitted out with a handy rake to clear paths and driveways – and the Paul is happy to take bookings!
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Paul’s mum Anne Marie tells Donegal Daily how the snow plough provided many hours of fun for the family.
Paul, who has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, uses his wheelchair on occasion along with a walker following his specialised surgery. However, his walker is not best suited for the snow, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Paul always wanted to help out by clearing a path in the snow. His brother Luke (12) tied the rake onto the front of the wheelchair and they spent hours clearing the street,” Anne Marie said.
The snow fun didn’t stop there for the Dohertys! Paul’s sister Ava (aged 11) invented a custom sleigh so they could enjoy the winter wonderland in a unique way.
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Anne Marie said: “Paul is just a typical boy and wants to have fun. It’s about finding ways he can do anything he wants to do.
“For children with disabilities, you have to instil as much confidence into them now, as I don’t want to think there’s anything they can’t do.”
Anne Marie shares updates from Paul’s life and progress on a Facebook page called ‘Mammy, I Want to Walk.” The page was first used as a fundraiser profile when Paul needed pioneering Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery in St. Louis, USA.
Following the surgery in 2015, and intensive therapy, Paul learned to use a walker to get around school and go about his everyday activities. The energetic boy does regular therapy sessions with Paul Smyth at his inclusive gym in Stranorlar, who Anne Marie describes as a lifesaver for his knowledge of disabilities.
“We like to give Paul as much freedom as we possibly can,” Anne Marie said. She said she continues to post on the page to inspire other parents who may be going through similar treatments and issues with their children. As one of the first pages to launch local fundraisers, she said it is inspiring to see other families not being afraid to ask for help to support their children.
Follow www.facebook.com/mammyiwanttowalk for more updates from Paul, Anne Marie and the family.