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Specialist sensory play equipment provided to family enables child to enjoy play

Hi Sunshine News readers,

And just like that the first month of the year is done!

And what a month its been for us already with this years The Lakes 3000 Trek selling out in record time; ball, Question of Sport and Chillingham Castle Scarefest dates all locked in and this years Great North Run campaign off to a flying start thanks to campaign sponsors True Potential. I'm genuinely excited to see what 2023 brings for the Chronicle Sunshine Fund.

This week we heard from one of our lovely families who got in touch to thank us for equipment we provided recently. Mum Nicole, applied for sensory and play equipment for her three year old son, Eli, after a conversation with Eli’s Occupational Therapist about the benefits of the equipment and how it may help his cognitive skills development.

The bundle we provided through our October 2022 equipment round included sensory toys, lights and physical therapy equipment specific to Eli’s individual needs and to support his development and well being. And most importantly and to help him having fun playing! Some of these items are enjoyed in our family events and sensory play sessions that we run throughout the year (See images).

Nicole said “Our son has global developmental delay and sensory processing differences. He has always struggled to ‘play with toys’ and doesn’t yet have the skills or understanding required.

"He relies on adults to provide experiences, and to engage and support him to use equipment which will promote his learning, skills development and independence, so that he can progress and reach his full potential. Eli requires daily physical therapy exercises and daily play, learning and sensory therapy.

"The equipment that we have received through the Sunshine Fund has been extremely beneficial in aiding our sons development. Eli is making good, solid progress, which no doubt has been influenced by the toys and equipment we have received. We know that the development of his skills, and learning will be slow and might have some limits, but we are very hopeful and can already see a difference.”

The items we provided have various benefits in addition to being fun to play with. Eli’s condition means he has low dexterity and muscle tone, so the items selected to meet his individual needs were chosen in conjunction with guidance from his care team to help him develop in these key areas.

After careful consideration, Eli has already chosen his favourite items as Nicole goes on to say “He is now showing more interest and engaging in toys in a more purposeful way. He shows huge enjoyment in the sensory lights. He requires preparation therapy before doing his activities - the bobble ball we have received provides really good feedback for him and helps to regulate him- he loves to use this, it provides huge enjoyment, lots of smiles, giggles and excited movements.

"The peanut ball has developed his core muscle strength and encourages him to weight bear on his legs, feet and arms more. He also loves to use his dance body sock. It enables him to learn about his body and the resistance promotes muscle development.

“Since having this equipment he has learnt to roll from his back to his front, which has been a huge success and now enables him to move more freely. We have received a big red button and adapted switch for toys and equipment which he can use easily.

"As he cannot yet communicate, this piece of equipment will help him to have more independence and to use his toys and equipment in a more focused and purposeful way. When he has mastered the skill of using the big switches, we hope that this will help his communication immensely.”

Nicole contacted us to thank us for the equipment and to let us know about the changes she and the wider family have already seen in Eli’s development. The family heard about the charity through medical professionals who support Eli and are involved in his care, they suggested Nicole get in touch.

When speaking of our application process Nicole said “The forms and process was very straight forward. We have had regular communications with the team from the Sunshine Fund, they have been very friendly and helpful, kept us updated about the process and helped us with any problems we had.

"They went out of their way to help us. We would highly recommend the Sunshine Fund and are very grateful for the support and especially the financial funding of the equipment, which without this, we would have struggled to provide.” - We are happy to help!

As we approach our Spring equipment round which is currently sitting at over £25,000, we would like to say thank you to all our wonderful readers and supporters who make these moments possible. Without your donations we can’t fund the equipment families from all over our region desperately need.

As well as being extremely expensive, this equipment can’t be bought off the shelf in a toy shop, meaning its often out of the reach of many of the families we support. If you are considering a regular gift or joining our weekly lottery, your donations are helping to fund this important work. Thank you!

Siobhan x