It’s to raise awareness for people who are paralysed

A Physiotherapy student is stepping out of her comfort zone to spend a week in a wheelchair.

21-year-old Karen Thomas will start her wheelchair challenge in June to raise awareness of people who are paralysed.

Karen is a volunteer for Back Up’s Skills for Independence course, and she is trying to raise funds for the spinal cord charity, Back Up.

She joined the Back Up team in 2013 after her two friends suffered severe accidents and were told they would never walk again.

Karen Thomas studies at The University of Birmingham

Karen Thomas studies at The University of Birmingham

She told the Birmingham Post: “It was a tough time for my friends and in the early stages of rehabilitation they were told about Back Up, so I became a volunteer.

“Many able-bodied individuals don’t think about wheelchair access, so I am hoping to make people aware of it, but also to show what improvements have been made in Birmingham.”

Karen has already raised over £200, and is hoping to raise more for the charity.

She added: “Students are not made aware of what spinal cord injury is and its implications.

“This means young people with spinal cord injury may feel anxious about going to university.

“I really want to see how students react to me being in a wheelchair and I hope my challenge will help them to feel more comfortable around wheelchair users.

“I also want to use this opportunity to inform and educate as many students as possible about spinal cord injuries.”

Karen will use her blog to share her experiences of being in a wheelchair, as well as uploading articles about spinal cord injuries.