Brave Evie’s vision of hope

Evie Mc Cabe and mum Shelley.
Evie Mc Cabe and mum Shelley.

A REVOLUTIONARY piece of equipment could be the key to changing little Evie McCabe’s life.

Three-year-old Evie, from Hartlepool, cannot move or talk and has been in and out of hospital after she was born with cerebral palsy and later developed epilepsy.

Evie McCabe.

Evie McCabe.

But an innovative piece of technology could change Evie’s life and allow her parents and teachers understand her needs and help her communicate.

A fundraising drive is underway to help pay for the £2,000 sensory device, called a Tobii Eye Gaze, which is attached to a computer, and uses eye movement to allow Evie to communicate.

It means Evie’s mum Shelley Coull, 39, can finally understand what her daughter perceives and wants.

Evie has been using the device since she started at Springwell School last month and it has given her a breakthrough.

Shelley, who lives in the Owton Manor area and is Evie’s full-time carer, said: “We are trying to raise funds to help her communicate with everybody else.

“She doesn’t speak, she uses this piece of technology at Springwell School and it will benefit her to have her own at home.

“Using this piece of equipment, Evie is able to let us know what she wants.

“It’s unbelievable.”

Karl Telfer, headteacher at Springwell, said: “It’s a fantastic piece of technological equipment for children who have little bodily movement.

“It picks up their eye movement and someone as young as Evie can understand it.

“It’s like a webcam and our children look at the screen and it picks up their eye movements so they can interact with computer programmes just by moving their eyes.

“Often if children haven’t got any language, if they can’t speak or move their heads to let us understand, we don’t know they understand.

“But with this equipment we can understand what they understand.”

Mr Telfer said there are around a dozen pupils sharing just one Tobii Eye Gaze at the school.

He added: “It can be very much life-changing.

“There are about a dozen in the school using this, and these will be the most disabled and needy children in the whole of Hartlepool.”

Evie, whose dad is Jamie McCabe, 29, cannot get around on her own and has an adapted pushchair and standing frame.

Last week she spent four days at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, after contracting a viral infection.

She has had numerous admissions to hospital after suffering from epileptic seizures.

Staff at the One Stop shop in Owton Manor Lane, have organised a welly walk for Evie, which takes place this Sunday.

The event is the brainchild of shift manager Anne Lewis, and starts at the shop at 10am before heading to the Blue Lagoon at Seaton Carew.

Members of the community are welcome to join in and Evie and her mum will also be there.

Staff have already raised around £1,000 for Evie through a collection tin.

Shelley, who is also mum to Jersey McCabe, eight, said: “I have lived around here all my life and it’s my local shop and it’s unbelievable what they are doing for us.

“I would like to say a big thank you to Anne for taking it on herself to organise it.”