Five-year-old girl takes first steps after therapy at innovative disability-only gym in Norwich

  • ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray went to find out more

A five-year-old girl who was told she would never stand or walk has taken her first steps, thanks to therapists at a specialist disability-only gym.

Hasina Salem had travelled from Hull to Norwich with her brain-damaged daughter Rukaya - who was starved of oxygen at birth - because of the results she had heard the centre was achieving.

Able2B is thought to be the only gym in the country which is for the exclusive use of disabled adults and children.

Within 20 minutes of arriving, Rukaya was standing and walking with help.

Rukaya standing with the help of expert Rachael Hutchinson. Credit: ITV News Anglia

An emotional Ms Salem said of her daughter's progress: "Honestly, it's amazing.

"To get her on her feet and to see her actually be able to do all the things I always knew she could. It's amazing honestly. It really is."

Rukaya is being helped by Rachael Hutchinson, who works as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital two days a week.

The rest of the time she works for free at the gym that she helped set up with ex-professional boxer Jon Thaxton.

Rachael Hutchinson, consultant orthopedic surgeon and co-founder of Able2B Credit: ITV Anglia

"She's got the strength to take her body weight and she's also got some control. When we give her the repeated patterns, she can step her feet," said Mrs Hutchinson.

"Will that go to full walking - who knows? She's five but... it's about giving people the opportunity to try."

Rukaya taking her first steps on a treadmill Credit: ITV ANGLIA

Four years ago the gym - which charges fees comparable to commercial gyms - helped twin boys to walk too despite doctors saying they never would.

They have a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

Now Ms Salem is hoping to return to Norwich with Rukaya every week.

As she continues her progress, she will be inspired by her skateboarding, rapping sisters - who are on Instagram as the Insistergaters.

But her mum is going to make sure she gets the chance to be the best she can be, she says.

Able2B, in Gilchrist Road, will have a grand opening of its new extension on Saturday. The new facilities include a new swim spa and hydrotherapy.

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