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With the provision of specialist toys, four-year-old Henry Cummins, from Oxted in Surrey, is now learning to play with his family.

Buying toys for children is usually a walk in the park – some little girls prefer something sparkly and for boys action figures always go down well. But for young Henry, buying him toys is not as easy because he has Cerebral Palsy, impaired vision and learning difficulties – he needs specialist toys which engage him and enable him to explore different forms of play.

Henry has been provided with the loan of an over-fives Interactive Play Therapy Pod and Auditory Play Therapy Pod from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s largest charity provider of essential equipment to meet the specialist needs of children with disabilities and terminal illness. The Interactive toys are designed to help improve hand-eye co-ordination and the Auditory toys encourage interaction with others through play and sound.

Henry has limited mobility, uses a powered wheelchair to get around and a standing frame which helps build his core strength. His left side is weaker than his right side which has resulted in him mainly using his right hand. Henry only responds to toys that make sounds or have a cause and effect.

Henry’s mum Caroline Cummins said: “Because specialist toys for children are so expensive Play Therapy Pods are a great way for me to find out what Henry enjoys. It would be a shame to spend a big sum of money on one specialist toy for him not to take to it.”

Play Therapy Pods are full of sensory and developmental toys to help children with complex needs, allowing families to ‘try before they buy’.

“He absolutely loves the toys, it’s amazing how much he has interacted with us since he started playing with them. It enables us to play together as a family. His favourites were a ladybird and a giant keyboard which he would use with his feet. It’s wonderful to see that the toys have brought so much out of Henry, I am very grateful to Newlife for the loan of the Play Therapy Pods, they have made a big difference,” said Caroline.

Free of charge and loaned for between 12 and 16 weeks, the Play Therapy Pods are aimed at stimulating senses as well as helping children be comforted and distracted from pain through play. Now with the help of a dedicated play therapist, Newlife has extended the range with Play Therapy Pods suitable for birth to 18 months and 18 months to three years, with each containing visual, auditory, tactile and interactive toys.

Application forms for Play Therapy Pods are available online by going to Further information about Play Therapy Pods is available from the charity’s Care Services Team on 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles).

Pictured: Henry Cummins