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Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has invested thousands of pounds to create new sensory boxes full of specialist aids and toys to help stimulate children with a variety of complex health needs. 

These boxes – containing around £500 worth of equipment each – are available to borrow, free of charge, from the charity by contacting the Newlife Nurse Helpline on 0800 902 0095 or by emailing nurses@newlifecharity.co.uk 

The charity has been loaning out sensory aids to families of disabled and terminally ill children for just over 12 months and is now more than doubling availability due to increased demand. Requests for boxes are not dependent on having submitted an application for an equipment grant. 

These additional resources will fall into three categories: 1, visual; 2, learning and development; 3, tactile. 

Visual boxes feature a range of hi-tech equipment like fibre optic strands, interactive light domes, projectors, kaleidoscopes and hand-held light changers. Learning and development boxes feature aids which encourage children to develop their speech and improve understanding and co-ordination; these include switch activated movement toys and audio building blocks. Last but not least, tactile boxes feature a range of sensory toys. Boxes will be matched to children’s needs. 

Newlife Lead Nurse Karen Dobson said: “The primary objective of our sensory loan boxes is to provide disabled children with toys and aids that will help them learn and develop skills through play. The boxes are delivered, free of charge, to families’ doors and collected with minimum fuss and each contains a wide selection of items for specific ages and abilities.” 

She added: “We are keen to get families’ feedback on the effectiveness of the equipment, which comes from trusted suppliers, so we can work to improve and expand the service with the help of play and speech therapists.” 

Families can have the boxes on loan for up to 12 weeks, and all equipment is serviced and cleaned before being reissued. New batteries are provided for relevant items. 

Karen added: “Play is important to all children, but for those with a disability the opportunity to access a variety of interesting and varied aids may not be a reality. Some of this equipment is around £200 for a single item, which puts it beyond the financial reach of many of the families we support. The Newlife sensory boxes scheme was launched to help alleviate this financial burden and to enable children to trial equipment. 

“These additional boxes will allow us to support more families across theUK, whether it is to fill a short-term need or while an application is being made for grant provision from Newlife or elsewhere.”

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