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Henshaws College helps student walk for the first time

A young man with cerebral palsy is celebrating after being helped to learn to walk for the very first time while at a specialist college.

Mike Davitt, who recently celebrated his 21st birthday, is a student at Henshaws College, North Yorkshire’s only specialist college for students with educational support needs and disabilities.

Mike, of York, was born 13 weeks prematurely with a range of conditions which led to him developing cerebral palsy and being a wheelchair user throughout his childhood. He has had real problems with his legs throughout and had undergone a variety of treatments before joining Henshaws College two years ago.

Henshaws College physiotherapist Lee Dart said: When Mike joined us he questioned some of the exercises we asked him to do.

It was `why are you asking me to walk? I don’t walk`.

But sometimes it is about taking a fresh look at what is possible and at Henshaws we have the staff, time and resources to back that up. In time, his response to learning to walk became ‘let’s have a go’.

It was about changing his attitude and that came from giving him belief in himself.”

Mike’s progress has meant that he has been able to stand at a bank counter for the first time and even visit a pub and stand at the bar to order a drink.

Mike Davitt has been able to stand at a bar and order a drink for the first time in his life
Mike Davitt has been able to stand at a bar and order a drink for the first time in his life

Lee believes that, with further intensive therapy it may even be possible for Mike to walk unaided in time.

Lee said: Mike came to College relying entirely on his wheelchair.

Through intensive physiotherapy over the last 18 months, he has progressed from walking in the hydrotherapy pool, to standing with the parallel bars and then walking with support.

There is still more work to be done but with further intensive therapy, there is potential for Mike to continue growing in strength and even to walk alone.

His progress has stunned his family, who have been kept up to date with videos he has taken home to show them what he has achieved at College.

Mum Sharron said: Everything he’s achieved since he’s been at Henshaws has been utterly amazing to us.

He went to Henshaws a boy and now he’s a young man.

It’s given him a really big confidence boost.

There’s no limit to what he can do now – it will go as far as Mike wants it to go.

It’s just about giving him the opportunity to succeed.

Mike’s dad, Michael has installed a hand rail in his garage so Mike can keep on practicing his walking when home on holiday.

Lee added:Everything we do at Henshaws is ambitious.

Typically students stay at College for up to three years and this can go very quickly, so every activity has to challenge them to be better and stronger, to leave college with more options for their future.


College Principal Angela North said: Mike is a fantastic example of our commitment to do everything we can to equip, empower and enable our students to progress along their individual pathway towards independence.

All of our students face challenges and it is our job to help them to overcome these.

I am delighted that this has paid such huge dividends for Mike and I cannot praise our team enough for helping him to succeed.

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