Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Friday, 8 July 2005 16:35 UK

Young theme for Mobility Roadshow

By Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News website disability affairs correspondent

Wheelchair-using teddies and dolls, and a concept for a luxury chair designed by an 11-year-old girl are among the attractions that will appeal to younger people at this year's Mobility Roadshow.

Photo of wheelchair using characters, Jonathan and Tilly
Tilly and Jonathan are becoming popular in schools
The emphasis on younger people coincides with the first National Young Disabled Persons' Day.

The Roadshow - an exhibition of products for people with mobility impairments - is taking place at Donnington Park in Derbyshire until Saturday 9 July.

Tilly and Jonathan are characters created by fashion designer, Annabel McMahon, who has come up with a range of trendy clothes for disabled children.

She says the idea for the cuddly toys originally came from requests from family members who wanted to buy gifts.

"We thought it would be a lovely idea to do some dolls and teddy bears in wheelchairs," she told the BBC News website.

"We've made them really modern, bright and funky and we've had a fantastic reaction from parents and children."

Her company, Racketys, is also taking orders from schools who find the characters useful to educate young children about disability.

The company is now planning to extend the range to show different disabilities.

Ms McMahon - who has worked in the fashion industry for 20 years - decided there was a gap in the market for specialist clothing for young disabled people, and set up her own business.

Photo of brightly-coloured T-shirts
The T-shirts have a bold message
"When I looked at what was available for children with disabilities the choice was extremely limited and the products were really dull," she said.

The company now produces a range of garments - like jackets that go on back to front - which would not look out of place on the High Street.

"Although it is specialist clothing it sits really comfortably with their normal clothes," she said.

To give their clothes an extra twist, Racketys have also designed a range of T-shirts with provocative slogans like, 'there's no need to stare - I know I'm fab', and 'wicked on wheels'.

Although her clothes are aimed at children under 14, Ms McMahon says a number of requests have come in to extend the range to the young adult market.

Lateral thinking

In order to get children thinking about disability, a group of companies sponsored a competition - called Ready, Willing and Mobile - to come up with ideas for new products.

Photo of Kayleigh Coxhead and her winning design
Kayleigh has a vision of a luxury lifestyle on wheels
The winner - 11 year-old Kayleigh Coxhead from Peterborough - designed a luxury wheelchair with a built-in ramp.

Her concept also has a waterproof CD player with speakers in the headrest, a drinks holder with its own drinking straw, and extra grip tyres for crossing rough terrain.

She got the idea for her design after watching some disabled children on the Xchange on CBBC.

Kayleigh thinks that conventional wheelchairs are "quite boring".

"I thought it would be better to make it more fun and exciting," she said.



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