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Children helped into sport with new NHS prosthetic limbs

Children who are missing an arm or leg are being helped to run, swim and play sport after getting new sports limbs on the NHS.

The roll-out of the sports prostheses on the NHS for the first time is part of a £1.5 million Government fund to help child amputees and others across England get active and might help create Britain's next batch of Paralympic athletes.

Brighton schoolboy Ben Moore, 13, has already put his new running blade into action to jog and play football. Now his sights are on the Paralympics, according to his mother Kate Moore.

She said: "We're really pleased Ben has been fitted with a new running blade. After watching the success of Team GB last year, this blade means Ben can develop his interest in sport and could become part of the next generation of Team GB.

"We hope more children and young people like Benjamin will be able to benefit too."

Double leg amputee Richard Whitehead, who defended his Paralympic title in the 200m T42 at the Rio Paralympics, said: "Having run thousands of miles on prosthetics myself, I'm delighted to see the next generation take their first steps in experiencing the freedom of running whether just for general enjoyment or towards achieving their own Paralympic ambitions."

Running blades, swim fins and arm attachments to help children play basketball are among some of the equipment set to be shared out.

The money, which is being rolled out over 2016/17 and 2017/18, is being split between NHS limb centres to fund requests for the equipment and on research to improve sports protheses.

The fund, which was announced during the Rio Paralympics by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, was earmarked after a campaign to highlight the issue by Sarah Hope.

Her two-year-old daughter Pollyanna had to have her right leg amputated below the knee after being hit by a bus while on a pavement in south London.

Kiera Roche, chief executive of LimbPower, the National Disability Sports Organisation for people with limb impairments, described the fund as "a really positive step" in supporting children to be more confident and sociable.

She said it gives them the equipment to participate and "immerse themselves fully in school PE and community activities".

Mr Hunt said: "Every child should be able to participate in sport.

"Team GB surpassed everyone's expectations at last year's Paralympics and this investment will ensure the next generation of children who have either been born without a limb or who have lost a limb will be able to lead an active life.

"It's wonderful that the first children are now receiving their blades and that they will be able to reach their sporting potential - I hope some may even be selected in the future as members of Team GB."

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