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Jacob Barker from Nottingham enjoys spending time with his family, but rarely chooses to play with toys, as he has Cerebral Palsy which affects his ability to hold and move them. However, the loan of a Play Therapy Pod from a leading children’s disability charity, funded by local utility company Western Power Distribution (WPD), has already improved his mobility, development and concentration.

Because of his condition, two-year-old Jacob is unable to walk, so is lifted and carried by his dad Adrian. He also has left sided weakness and delayed communication, but has some understanding of simple signs and symbols. Although it can be hard to keep his attention focused, some of the toys in the Play Therapy Pod have really captured his attention.

The pod was accessed through Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness, which recently launched two new under three categories to their popular range of Play Therapy Pods – under 18 months and 18 month to three. The pods were developed with the help of a dedicated play therapist and are loaned to parents for 12 weeks. Jacob is the first recipient of the pod funded by WPD which is in the 18-month to age three category.

Dave Hewitt, Distribution Manager at WPD, said: “When we heard about the work that Newlife Foundation does to help disabled and terminally ill children in the area, we wanted to help. It’s great that the pods benefit lots of different children and were delighted to be able to fund one.”

Containing a range of age appropriate specialist visual, auditory, tactile and interactive toys, it gives each child the chance to try out toys they may not otherwise have access to, and helps parents and carers develop a greater understanding of the types of toys their child responds to – enabling them to avoid costly mistakes.

Jacob’s dad, Adrian, said: “Some of the toys have interested him and some haven’t, but there have been some which are helping his development, such as stacking cups which he has to use both hands to put inside each other and another which is multi-coloured, spins and has bells on, which is helping him to distinguish colours.

“It’s hard to keep his concentration and it’s difficult to buy him toys as I never know what he will like. Toys aren’t really his thing, but the Play Therapy Pod definitely makes it easier to see what he does like, rather than me buying things and ending up just putting them in a cupboard. It’s ideal for parents on a tight budget as it helps you buy toys you know your children will like, which can help save a lot of money!”

It’s hoped the toys in the pod will not only help his family identify the types of toys Jacob really enjoys, but also encourage Jacob play on his own, without adult help, improve his ability to co-ordinate small objects, his understanding of cause and effect and his communication skills

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: Jacob Barker