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Rowan Mills is just 10-months-old – and he hasn’t had the easiest start to life. Rowan was born 10 weeks prematurely and as a result has Cerebral Palsy, chronic lung disease and developmental delay. Until recently, Rowan has had little interest in toys and play – but that all changed when he was loaned a Play Therapy Pod from Newlife, the Charity for Disabled Children.

Although Rowan, who lives in Walton-on-Thames, had standard, high street toys to play with, nothing was catching his interest. But his mum, Kimberley, heard about the Play Therapy Pods from a friend and decided to give them a try.

Kimberley said: “We’ve had other toys for Rowan, but the ones in the Pod are not like the sort of toys you would expect to find on the high street. I loved the fact that they came with some hints and tips on how to use them. Before we had the pod, Rowan wasn’t really doing much, but this has kick started his interest and his development has come on hugely since. Now he wants to reach out for things, which he wasn’t doing before.”

Kimberley herself has a disability and isn’t able to take Rowan out on her own, so they spend a lot of time at home together.

She said: “Rowan doesn’t have access to the same opportunities as other babies his age. I have to be creative in the ways we play together to try and combine it with his physiotherapy and the Play Therapy Pod has really helped with this – it has given us both the opportunity to have that interaction.

“It has also helped improve his communication massively. He makes a lot more noises now and is able to make it known what he likes and when he’s had enough. He has problems swallowing, so we don’t know yet how this will affect his speech, but the Play Therapy Pod has taken us a step closer.”

Each Play Therapy Pod is loaned free of charge for 12 weeks and categories includes those suitable from birth to 18 months, 18 months to three years, three to five years and five to 18 years. Each contains a selection of specialist toys that can teach cause and effect, assist with developing hand/eye coordination, and promote understanding of balance and movement, as well as helping with the development of motor skills and stimulating audio and visual senses.

For more information or to download an application form, visit the Our Services section at