Like many six-year-olds, Jonathan-Kraig Atkins is an active child. But unlike many others his complex condition including ADHD, Global Developmental Delay and Dyspraxia means he struggles to sit still.
Mum Mrs Amanda Atkins, from Fenton in Staffordshire, said: “He rarely sits and relaxes because his mind can’t slow down – he’s always thinking about the next thing he is going to do. This impacts on J-K in a number of ways; he has difficulties sitting and concentrating on his school homework and we both miss out on things like story time because he can’t be still long enough to listen.”
However, the family will soon be receiving a specialist ‘gravity chair’ which will help meet J-K’s sensory needs. This is being provided by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children working in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer.
The seating was recommended by J-K’s occupational therapist, but because there was no local statutory funding available the family turned to the Staffordshire-based charity. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
Amanda said: “J-K had the opportunity to try out one of these chairs. He made a bee-line for it and sat down for more than two minutes, which is really unusual. He was so calm, it was amazing to see. The chair seemed to cuddle around him – it was the feeling of security that he liked and that relaxed him. And it was instant. I got quite emotional when I saw how comfortable and comforted he looked.”
M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife Foundation for the last 11 years, donating returned products to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Staffordshire, and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities. In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund more than 200 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £600,000 for children with disabilities and terminal illness across the UK.
Sheila Brown OBE, chief executive of Newlife Foundation, added: “Our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children and their families. It is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives. We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”
Pictured: Jonathan-Kraig Atkins