The right wheelchair means a full life for Shelby

The right wheelchair means a full life for Shelby | World Vision Blog

Shelby in Kenya received a new wheelchair customized to suit her specific needs. (Photo: World Vision)

Five-year-old Shelby in Kenya has cerebral palsy, and for a while she and her mother Anne didn't have the support that Shelby needed.

Through our USAID-funded ACCESS wheelchair program, not only does Shelby now have a wheelchair, she has ongoing clinical and social support!

Read Shelby's and Anne's story, and see the transformative difference the right wheelchair has made in their lives as well as across their community.


Five years ago, Anne was blessed with a baby girl, Shelby, who was ushered into the world with much love and affection. In the beginning, everything was fine; however, as time went on Shelby seemed different from other children. After many trips to various hospitals and doctors, Shelby’s parents learned that their daughter had cerebral palsy.

“Life was very difficult,” Anne said.

“I had to carry Shelby all the time wherever I went. This is because it was not possible to leave her under the care of anyone else. People would laugh at me for carrying her around while her age mates were already walking by themselves. I did not understand what was wrong with my daughter. At some point, I left Shelby under the care of my mother in the village so that I could travel to Nairobi to seek a means of livelihood and care for my family. My husband had abandoned us by this time.

At times I would miss out on opportunities to do odd jobs and fend for my family because I could not find someone who would help me take care of Shelby. As a result, I went through very difficult moments due to lack of income, and I was unable to afford basic necessities for the family such as food, clothing, health care, and school requirements.”

The right wheelchair means a full life for Shelby | World Vision Blog
One of the areas in Kenya where World Vision works. (Photo: 2015 Chris Huber/World Vision)


Shelby’s mother resolved to continue caring for her daughter and never stopped showering her with love and affection. When Shelby was two, her mother met someone working with the Association for Physically Disabled Persons (APDK) in Kenya. Through APDK, Shelby was able to get physical therapy, but she was still without an appropriate wheelchair.

Like an answered prayer, Anne heard from her friends that World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, was running a USAID-funded wheelchair program known as ACCESS (Accelerating Core Competencies for Effective Wheelchair Services and Support).

When she arrived at World Vision’s field office, she learned that receiving a wheelchair wouldn’t be a one-time event. Instead, it would be a process that would include assessing her daughter’s needs, prescribing the appropriate wheelchair, and then fitting and adjusting the chair to her growing body. And the process wouldn’t end there: by becoming a part of the ACCESS project, Shelby would receive continuous clinical and social follow-up to ensure that her wheelchair was right for her for years to come!

A preliminary screening revealed that, due to her condition, Shelby would need a wheelchair with extra postural support. After the screening, Shelby was provided with an intermediate wheelchair during a training event held for APDK therapists by Motivation Kenya, a technical expert organization working with the ACCESS project.

The right wheelchair means a full life for Shelby | World Vision Blog
Shelby with her new wheelchair. (Photo: World Vision)

Now that Shelby was equipped with a brand new wheelchair, her mother was fueled with hope and determination to make a difference in her daughter’s life. Shelby’s mother said:

“When Shelby received the appropriate wheelchair from the ACCESS Project, things changed for the better. I could now do many things which I could previously not do owing to the fact that I was expected to literally care for her almost every minute. For example, I can now go to the market to attend to my grocery business without any hindrance. I also have time to do other casual jobs to get additional income for my family. Occasionally, I wheel Shelby around to allow her to interact more with other children. The opportunities that have been created by the wheelchair experience have earned us considerable respect in the community.”

Once Shelby was mobile, her mother’s next task was to enroll her in school. In a country where less than 2% of children with disabilities have access to an education, where services don’t exist, and facilities are inaccessible, Shelby’s chance of going to school was slim. That was until her mother came up with the idea of starting a day-care center for children with disabilities, in hopes of providing them with a full life.

While at daycare, Shelby and several other children with disabilities enjoy the opportunity to play and make friends. When asked what her favorite part of daycare was, Shelby replied, “Playing with other children and making friends.” Due to Shelby’s joy and her mother’s love, there are now 15 additional children attending daycare.

Shelby’s mother said: “Being active with Shelby in her wheelchair has influenced other parents of children with disabilities to a big extent. Several parents and caregivers have come to enquire from me how I acquired the wheelchair for Shelby. I have referred many of them to ACCESS. As a result, 3 children with disabilities have been provided with wheelchairs. The wheelchairs have given them a completely new experience and really transformed their lives.”

Shelby’s story is a great step toward a more inclusive, empowered community. The ACCESS project has equipped 70 people with wheelchairs. They have also afforded many families like Shelby and Anne the opportunity to experience love, pursue their aspirations, and fulfill their ambitions.

When Anne was asked what she had learned from Shelby, she replied, “Shelby’s experience has taught me to accept my life, be ready for everything, and trust in God.”

This project is made possible by the generous support of the American People through Advancing Partners & Communities (APC), a cooperative agreement funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of World Vision and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

James Keitany is the Disability Programs Advisor for World Vision Kenya.

Your gift of $50 will ship and deliver a custom-fit wheelchair to a child with disability.


    This is an inspiring story of Shelby, a girl with disability from Kenya. We are glad that this project is helping transform the well-being of children with disability one child at a time, we hope that her story will inspires us all to rededicate ourselves and to promoting and creating awareness for inclusion of children and persons with disability in our programs and policies. James

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