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Luke’s story of independence

Photo collage - Luke smiling, Luke using his running frame, Luke smiling with mum Sarah

With the support of National Star’s team of expert therapists and nurses, fourth–year student Luke is achieving far more than his mum Sarah ever thought possible.

Luke was born by emergency caesarean section and at just six weeks old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. When he was six, Luke was hospitalised due to liver failure and Sarah was told to prepare herself for the worst. Luke was transferred to a children’s hospice for end–of–life care. But then something amazing happened. To his mum’s shock, Luke pulled through.

Specialist accommodation

Luke, now 23, lives at Bradbury Gardens, National Star’s student accommodation in Cheltenham. He uses a power wheelchair to get about, and an AAC (Augmented and Alternative Communication) device to communicate with his friends and staff.

In his residence Luke has his own ensuite bedroom with technology that enables him to control his environment. He also has access to a range of specialist facilities, an on–site 24–hour nursing team and plenty of space in which to relax and socialise.

‘Luke has complex medical needs as part of his condition,’ said his mum, Sarah.

‘He requires lots of medication and eats using a feeding tube. The specialist nurses within his residence are able to meet all of those needs within the right environment.’

Becoming more independent

Since being at National Star, Luke has been learning to become more independent, an important goal of his.

‘I wanted to live away from Mum for a little bit and be like other teenagers,’ said Luke. ‘I wanted to develop my independence and work on things by myself.’

Luke receives physiotherapy on–site at Bradbury Gardens, and, alongside his other therapies, this plays a key role in keeping him fit and healthy. He loves going outside to use his Race Runner, a three–wheeled running frame, which for the first time has enabled him to move around independently without being reliant on technology or switches.

Luke is also learning to drive his own wheelchair. Bradbury Gardens’ wide corridors and spacious rooms, as well as trips out into the local community, have given him plenty of opportunities to do this.

‘The best thing about living at Bradbury is that there is more space for my things,’ said Luke. ‘There are wide corridors for me to practise my new skills.’

Developing confidence

Developing greater confidence using his AAC device means that Luke is now more comfortable making his voice heard, and he is able to express himself and his needs.

‘I like sharing my news with everyone and saying what I think and what I want.’

Sarah added: ‘National Star provides that perfect combination of meeting Luke’s complex medical needs and his educational needs inside and outside the classroom.

‘It’s enabled him to grow and learn and become a perfectly rounded adult.

‘He’s achieving so much at National Star, far more than I think either of us ever thought was possible.’

Help us continue to provide the specialist accommodation young people with disabilities need by donating to our Building a Brighter Future Appeal.

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