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A Rotherham 18-month-old with a life-limiting condition has begun to reach out for toys and interact with them for the first time, thanks to a special Play Therapy Pod from the UK’s leading children’s disability charity.

Angel Riley has the genetic condition Edwards Syndrome, which means she isn’t yet crawling, can’t sit unsupported or always control her own head and is just beginning to vocalise sounds. She finds it difficult to pick up and hold standard toys, which affects her ability to play, but she is now making progress thanks to a Play Therapy Pod from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

The charity added two new under three categories to their popular range of Play Therapy Pods – under 18 months and 18 month to three – which were developed with the help of a dedicated play therapist and are loaned to parents for 12 weeks. Angel is the first recipient of the pods aimed at children aged under 18-months which contains a range of age appropriate specialist visual, auditory, tactile and interactive toys.

Dad Andrew said: “Angel is always smiling and she loves lots of attention and cuddles and likes anything with music and lights, but because of her condition she is behind in her development. It is trial and error when it comes to getting things to help her – but a lot of the things we have looked at are very expensive and there is no guarantee she will engage with them.

“We have had the Play Therapy Pod for a few weeks now and many of the items are really rewarding for her and are benefitting her quite a lot. She’s reaching for things and interacting, which she didn’t do with her other toys.

“We feel that the play pod has brought new things to Angel’s life in different ways. There are things in there which we personally wouldn’t have bought her because of the expense of the item, however given the chance now we would definitely purchase some of the items in the box that she really enjoys and plays with.

“If it wasn’t for the Newlife providing us and Angel with the Play Therapy Pod I don’t think she would be as far in her development as she is now, both interaction wise and movement.”

It is hoped the toys from the Play Therapy Pod will now help Angel further develop her ability to co-ordinate small movements and make larger movements with her head, arms and legs as well improve hand and eye co-ordination, focus visually and respond to sounds.

The range of Play Therapy pods are loaned free of charge and help children play, sometimes for the first time, develop skills and comfort and distract them from pain through play.

The application forms for Play Therapy Pods are available online at Further information about the range of Play Therapy Pods is available from the charity’s Care Services Team on 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles).

Pictured: Angel Riley