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CHARITY’S BOX OF TRICKS IS SUMMER BOOST FOR COUNTY ANTRIM FAMILY

Mum of two Sandra Armour has had a helping hand to keep her two sons entertained this summer – thanks to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.

Sandra’s sons Scott, aged 11, and Joshua, four, both have sensory needs, with Scott diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD.

The family – from Larne – are being supported through Newlife’s Play Therapy Pod service which offers three-month loans of sensory toys for children with complex needs.

Sandra said: “Both my boys currently have a Play Therapy Pod on loan – and they have been a godsend during the summer holidays. Neither of them is capable of play in the regular sense of the word, but the pods we have are full of specialist toys which light up in different ways and have a calming affect on them.

“These are the second lot of pods we have had and we have found the items have been targeted at their specific needs. They really look forward to getting a Play Therapy Pod – especially the wee one, who gets so excited. It’s like Christmas!”

Sandra added: “The pods are perfect for the boys – especially as I would never be able to afford these sensory toys myself. The lights have a very calming affect on them when they are agitated and are very useful at bedtime because they are soothing, making it easier for Scott and Joshua to fall asleep. My oldest son in particular finds it very difficult to go to sleep. It’s very upsetting as a parent to see my son crying because he wants so badly to go to sleep but he just can’t. Having the lights to watch soothes him and helps him fall asleep.”

Newlife is expanding its Play Therapy Pod service and currently has over 200 in circulation around the UK – with several in Northern Ireland. Newlife play specialist Lucie Mallen said: “Fun specialist toys really do make a difference to the way children interact with each other, their families and the world around them.”

Each pod contains around £400 of sensory and developmental toys; they are available on three-month loans and delivered direct to families’ homes. Play Therapy Pods fall into two age categories – under and over-fives – with targeted equipment for tactile, visual, interactive and auditory needs in each age group. They come with interaction ideas to give families guidance on how to use the equipment as part of interactive play and developmental programmes.

Newlife needs £100,000 a year so it can continue to help families in Northern Ireland. To donate or fundraise, go to: newlifecharity.co.uk/lorcan or call the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on freephone 0800 988 4640.  All the money received will be used to provide specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in Northern Ireland, with donors and fundraisers able to designate which county they would like their money to be spent in.

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