Our history began back in 1996 when the idea of making wheelchairs for impoverished, disabled children in under resourced countries came from a member of the Surfers Sunrise Rotary Club in Queensland, Australia. In 1998, Rotary Club of Scarborough adopted the concept and the project began in Western Australia as “Wheelchairs for Kids”
Initially trialling production in 3 schools and 2 prisons the project then moved to a workshop for disadvantaged youths in Wangara Western Australia, with Gordon Hudson as voluntary CEO and Brother Olly Pickett as workshop manager. A little while later, the Rotary Club of Scarborough and the Christian Brothers jointly rented a dedicated workshop for wheelchairs to be manufactured by retiree volunteers. The project gained momentum and the workshop had to move to larger premises and then was expanded again.
Up to 2011 the WA State Government provided us with sufficient money to fully cover the rent for our workshops. As we have recently expanded this support now covers half our rent. We are very grateful for this support of $30,000 and with it the promise of the same amount each year for the next four years. The Rotary Club of Scarborough covers the workshop overheads and the Christian Brothers supply a vehicle.
From humble beginnings in 1998, our volunteer work force has grown to more than 100, mainly being retired people. They machine, assemble, control quality, box the wheelchair components and load the boxes into sea containers; other volunteers make cushion covers, rugs and knitted toys to accompany our finished product.
With the younger recipients of our wheelchairs, the toy is always greeted with wide eyes and a broad smile. Clutching on tightly, they instantly become inseparable friends.
WFKs ability in attracting donations, so essential to sustain and grow the project, has been greatly influenced by the fact that no donated funds are spent on administration and there are neither salaried employees nor vehicles to maintain.