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The Wheelchair Toddler - All Grown Up

Born in Cambridge, England, Ruth Everard is the eldest child of Dan and Louise Everard. She has a genetic condition called spinal muscular atrophy which causes severe muscle weakness and means she has never been able to walk at all. However, she was the original "wheelchair toddler", mobile from the age of twenty-two months in a revolutionary machine designed by her father.

The Everards were sure that mobility should be available to Ruth from the same developmental stage as able-bodied children, but no appropriate wheelchair existed. Dan was, and still is, a consulting electronics design engineer. He designed a powered wheelchair which provided his little daughter with as much mobility as she needed to be a normal toddler. She was mobile in a one-off machine, known as the "Yellow Peril" before the age of two and Dan Everard went on to develop the Turbo powerchair in the 1980s which was supplied worldwide to children with many disabilities. The Turbo transformed mobility for disabled children.

The Everard family are pioneers and are passionate in their belief that young disabled children should be mobile on time, no excuses, in order to enable them to reach developmental milestones with their peers. Because Ruth has not been faced with the additional limitations on her abilities caused by immobility and dependence she has had an upbringing as close to mainstream as possible. She is effectively a non-disabled person with wheels.

As a child, she had special permission to work because she was involved in testing and demonstration of the Turbo. She has been instrumental in the ongoing development of the machines her father designs and featured regularly as a child on television and radio and in the press. Described as a "beautiful nine-year-old" in the Observer, at three years old she had ruined a live television piece by John Stapleton on a fledgling TV-AM and a photo of her kissing Rick Astley was printed in the Daily Mail when she was eight.

Ruth was educated in mainstream education all the way from nursery school to a law degree at St John's College, Oxford. In her twenties, she qualified as a solicitor. She uses one of her father's latest design of powerchairs, the Dragon, from which she can also drive her car. So that she can live completely independently, from the age of eighteen she has run a team of staff to assist her 24-hours a day with her personal care needs.

These days she lives a busy life (or possibly hectic is a better word) writing, speaking and making media appearances promoting appropriate and advanced mobility for young disabled children.

"This family has been on the cutting edge of what assistive mobility can do and should make possible for 30 years. ... They probably are responsible for all the powered mobility use by very young children in Europe." Charlene Butler, PhD

Email: RME@RuthEverard.com       Phone: +44 (0) 7951 760080

© Ruth Everard : Latest update 17th October 2006