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Specialist sensory equipment has been crucial in the development of disabled two-year-old Rhys Moore from Suffolk – and now his family want to share their story to help raise awareness of the children’s charity that has supported them.

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children offers a range of free practical support services to families around the UK: a Newlife Nurse Helpline – freephone 0800 902 0095, equipment grants (£10million for more than 6,800 children), equipment loans for life-limited children and loans of specialist sensory toys to aid development.

A three-month loan of a Newlife Play Therapy Pod – containing around £400 of specialist sensory toys and aids – has opened up a world of new possibilities for Rhys, who has developmental delay and an undiagnosed condition which results in poor muscle control and affects his ability to walk and talk.

Mum Sarah Moore, from Framlingham, said: “Before the sensory toy pod arrived, Rhys had a non-existent attention span and resisted touch which meant, for instance, that physiotherapy was very difficult.

“Rhys has been particularly responsive to two items in the pod – gel pads which he finds soothing and likes to lie on, developing his own physical skills with his hands, and a vibrating turtle. The turtle has been a revelation. Rhys likes to sit on it and finds the vibration very relaxing; he will sit still for quite a while, allowing physiotherapy on his legs and work to improve his co-ordination and communication skills. It has been absolutely amazing to watch the transformation and his health professionals have been impressed with the difference the equipment has made.”

Play Therapy Pods – which fall into eight categories according to age and condition – are a perfect ‘try before you buy’ opportunity for parents and carers of children with complex needs. Sarah said: “Unfortunately, specialist sensory equipment is more expensive than standard children’s toys. It is difficult to gauge exactly what a disabled child might react well to and so easy to waste money on toys that are never used. The vibrating turtle has gone to the top of Rhys’s Christmas list!”

Newlife Foundation supports disabled and terminally ill children across Suffolk, and has funded 40 Equipment Grants for under-19s in the county at a cost of £82,218 – including a grant for Rhys). Newlife is currently working with another two families in Suffolk, with equipment needs totalling £1,549.

However, a surge in demand for services has prompted the charity to call for ‘local heroes’ to come forward to fundraise or donate towards the cost of specialist equipment for children in the county.

For instance, Newlife supporters can choose to take on a sponsored sporting challenge, host a coffee morning or cake sale, make and sell handcrafted goods, organise a pub quiz or community car wash, hold a sponsored silence or stage an evening of entertainment.

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to provide equipment for disabled and terminally ill children – and donors can ring-fence their money to a specific county.”

If you think you can help, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.

Pictured: Rhys Moore 

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