Hi Sunshine News readers,
We hope everybody is well and making the most of the few days we’ve had without rain! This week, we’d like to talk a bit about the type of equipment we fund, the categories they fall under and the impact they can have on our Sunshine Children, with examples of some of the items that have been on our waiting list.
When people ask us what our charity does, we tell them how we fund specialist and adapted equipment to local children living with disabilities, additional needs and terminal illness. Families can make one application every 12 months, and we support children from the age of 0 right up until their 19th birthday.
When we’re asked what sort of equipment we fund, people are often surprised at the wide range of items. The items we fund break the barrier that may be preventing our children to participate in activities or enjoy life like their friends.
When we talk to our families, we tell them that the equipment they apply for doesn’t have to meet a strict criteria, and the world really is their oyster. We tell them to use their imagination, to not be shy to apply for items that are perhaps not deemed ‘essential’, because we strongly believe that every child deserves to live a happy, fulfilled life, and if that means funding a piece of equipment that will bring joy and enrichment to their life, then that’s absolutely fine.
The equipment we fund generally falls into one of four categories: mobility, living aids, sensory and play, and IT and communication. Mobility includes things like wheelchairs, all-terrain buggies, walking frames.
For example, as pictured above, the Hippocampe Beach Wheelchair unlocked a whole world of places for Wren. Beach wheelchairs allow children to go to the seaside without worrying about accessibility.
We’re hosting a beach day for our Sunshine Families at South Shields Sandhaven beach next week, where our kids will have the chance to use and test out some beach wheelchairs like this, courtesy of our friends at Beach Access North East! For some, it may be the first time they’ve been able to go on to the beach, something we all take for granted, which is why funding equipment like this is so important, as every child deserves the same opportunities.
On our waiting list, we have several mobility items including the Tomato Buggy, priced at £909. This is a lightweight pushchair that can make life a lot easier for families with a wheelchair user, or a child with limited mobility or fatigue. It’s lightweight and folds up, making travelling, holidays, shopping, hospital visits etc a lot more convenient, and its enclosed hood creates a comfortable environment for children with sensory needs, who get overstimulate by loud noises and busy surroundings and potentially put themselves in danger when near roads.
Our Living Aids category includes items such as specialist seating and adapted beds, as well as hoists and accessories. While some families may receive funding for specialist equipment, this is often limited and doesn’t include important add-ons such as rain covers or canopies, that can make a huge difference to daily life.
One item currently on our waiting list is a Safe Space, priced at £3,133.41. This offers a child a calm, relaxing environment to sleep and play when they can’t, not only that it allows parents to relax, safe in the knowledge that their child can’t hurt themselves. The Safe Space is portable, which means it can be taken on holiday, to sleepovers at grandparents’ and allows that quality time outside the home, providing respite time for parents and carers, confident that their childs’ safety needs throughout the night are met.
For children with sensory needs, activities like going to the local park or soft play can be overwhelming and unenjoyable, but they still have the same desire to play and have fun outdoors. Our sensory and play items range from trikes, so children who find two wheels just aren’t enough have the chance to race siblings and play with their friends, as well as indoor sensory toys and outdoor play.
We fund a sensory bundle, priced at £72, which includes a variety of smaller sensory items which allow kids to self-regulate and manage their own hyperactive, impulsive behaviours independently and appropriately. Items can include a ‘body sock’ and ‘peanut ball’, which help with body awareness and seeking movement, a ‘koosh ball’ which is a transportable, lightweight fidget tool which soothes anxiety, and a ‘therapressure brush’ which is calming, helping with tactile desensitisation.
Another popular item on our waiting list is a trampoline, priced at £390. This can offer a child amazing sensory feedback, helping them to self-regulate and use their excess energy in a fun and appropriate way.
Having access to a trampoline in their own garden offers a wonderful setting to support family play time with siblings when social interaction is difficult; having time for shared fun is vital for the whole family. A wonderful way of supporting child’s play and wellbeing.
We fund a lot of IT and communication equipment, such as eye gaze technology, laptops and iPads. The items we fund are often duplicates; children may have access to these items at school, but these are generally owned by the Local Authority, and while they have support at school, they don’t have the same opportunities at home.
We believe every child should have the same opportunities, and having access to the equipment at home develops their learning away from school, provides support with homework, and encourages independence. One item we’ve funded several times is an Apple MacBook, priced around £1,000.
People sometimes wonder why we fund higher priced items like this over less expensive models, and it’s because of the accessibility functions that are available. For children with visual impairments, being able to use accessibility tools is integral in developing their communication skills, and allowing them to have the same access as others. Apple have put a lot of investment into their accessibility features and these are integrated into all devices as standard, whereas if we funded less expensive laptops, families would have to add additional accessibility software as well.
This month, those who play our weekly lottery actually have the opportunity to WIN a MacBook Air! Our lottery costs £1 per ticket, half of which comes directly to The Sunshine Fund, and this generates regular sustainable funding.
Once registered, you can manage how many tickets you play and cancel anytime. The MacBook Air will be won by one person in the draw on Saturday, August 26, so get signed up now to be in with a chance! As well as monthly bonus prizes, players also have the chance to win the national prize of £25,000, as well as the local prize pot.
Sign up today: https://www.onelottery.co.uk/support/the-chronicle-sunshine-fund.
Thanks for reading!