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The X-Rover Super Buggy has Landed!

WOW! A super cool, super stylish special needs all-terrain buggy & bike trailer in one, ideal for all ages!

Now, there’s no excuse to stay indoors!  The X-Rover is a brand new all-in-one jogger, pushchair and bicycle trailer for disabled children and adults. Especially suited to active parents of children and adults with special needs who want to go off-road, take to the bike trails or even run a marathon! 

Exclusively available from Freedom for Kids, the X-Rover All-In-One package includes all of the accessories you need for a trip outdoors. Included in this fully-loaded specialist stroller are all the safety and support accessories you’ll need to keep your passenger safe, secure and optimally positioned. The X-Rover can accommodate a wide range of disabilities, life-limiting conditions and special needs.

Available in 3 sizes, small, medium and large and in 5 stunning colours – there’s an X-Rover for everyone!

The X-Rover is available in 5 stunning colours – Orange, Red, Blue, Pink & Green

Safety First…..robust, rugged all-terrain buggy
X-Rover is made with made from reinforced alloy with a majority of the fittings made from metal for safety and durability. The x-Rover is a safe, comfortable and practical 3-wheel buggy and bike trailer for everyday trips and for rugged off road use.

Running a marathon with your child is now a breeze!

Cycle all the way….no-one gets left behind!
The X-Rover comes with a unique cycle attachment allowing it to be used as a bike trailer. Simply swap the wheel and hook it up. The Bike Cyclo Set allows you to attach the stroller to the back of any bicycle for use as a trailer-chair. The x-Rover even allows you to track your activities with an included Smart Watch to track speed and distance travelled…they really have thought of everything, now there’s no limits to where you can go!

Small X-Rovers with Windstop covers in Red and Blue used as Bike Trailers

Life with No Limits!

This is special needs all-terrain buggy with a serious EDGE, designed for use while walking, running, cycling and even skiing, whether on road or off-road, this will get your whole family active.  The tri-wheel design with a swivelling, all-terrain front castor and angled rear wheels maintains perfect balance, so you can be assured your loved one is stable and secure, even when travelling off-road, at speed!! The impressive Volter X-Rover stroller features a safety roll cage with durable, aluminium-alloy chassis with reinforced parts and stainless steel hardware.

Wow, what does all that mean – well, it doesn’t fold like a pushchair, it has a solid, super-sturdy frame – think of this more like the Formula 1 Ferrari of buggies!!

There really is NO LIMITS to where you can go and what you can do now the X-Rover is here!

Small X-Rover with optional Beach Buggy Wheels

Accessorise, Accessorise!

All sorts of innovative and useful optional accessories are available, including a fully supportive chest harness, double leg abductors, head support cushion, beach buggy wheels, a canopy visor, parent pouch, messenger bag, utility bag, hand muff, adapted sleeping bag, travel bag, beach wheels, ski set and much more!

You can now visit Freedom for Kids and have a go yourself, as we offer free demonstrations for the X-Rover at our new premises, Netherton Park Farm on the Northumberland Coast. This allows you and your child to try out the equipment for size and comfort. Or if are unable to travel, why not join us for a Live Demo via Facetime or WhatsApp – we will show you all the features and you also have the opportunity to view our entire range.

For more information please contact us using info@freedomforkids.co.uk or Helpline 01670 343456 or Facebook @freedomforkids

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Children With Disabilities Experience the Joy of Running as Assisted Athletes

A charitable organisation makes racing possible for children with physical limitations

At the start of a 5 km race in Eagle Mountain, Utah, a group of kids rock excitedly in their specialist pushchairs. “They’re always eager to get going,” says runner Charles Stoddard. The children won’t take a step in this race–that’s the task of volunteers like Stoddard, who push the kids in jogging strollers at various events near Salt Lake City.

Some of the runners use the Axiom Endeavour or Axiom Phoenix Pushchairs, designed specially for tackling off-road terrain and all ages of children and young adults. The Endeavour is available in 3 sizes and accommodates passengers from 5 years old to teenagers in sizes 2.0 and 3.0 and adults in 3.0 and the largest size 4.0. Shown here on another race below.

Stoddard and 6-year-old Elizabeth Robison are among 14 child-runner teams geared up to get moving this chilly morning in March. The kids all have various disabilities. Many, like Elizabeth, suffer from cerebral palsy. As the mass of runners move down the mountain, Elizabeth grins. She’s unable to speak, but a few of the kids shout what organizers say is the group’s collective mantra: “Faster! Go faster!”

Push to the Finish founder Andrew McMahon.

Helping kids experience the thrill of racing was exactly what Andrew McMahon had in mind when he conceived Push to the Finish. McMahon, 37, saw a wheelchair-bound child on the side-lines of a race a few years ago, and an image came to mind of the Hoyts–the father-and-son duo who have completed more than a thousand road races with Dick, the father, pushing Rick, a quadriplegic, in a wheelchair. “I went home and asked my wife, ‘How can we get more disabled kids racing?'” says McMahon, a director of college outreach and father of three able-bodied girls. A few phone calls later, McMahon had three kids, three runners, and a race welcoming their participation.

Since that first event, Push to the Finish has helped more than 75 kids cross finish lines at 42 races. The organization pays the entry fee, so there is no cost to parents or runners; both simply register at the Push to the Finish Web site and are matched on race day. Kids are the registered participants; they wear the bib numbers and take home the medals, while runners race anonymously. “When we pass each other, we cheer on the child, not each other,” says Stoddard, 38, a 3:14 marathoner who has completed 19 Push to the Finish events.

Like many parents, Elizabeth’s mom, Freyja Robison, was hesitant to enter her child at first. Elizabeth has frequent seizures, and handing her over to a stranger seemed risky. But at the urging of another mother, and also knowing that Elizabeth might not have much time left, Robison decided “every day needed to be a party.”

Marred by cold and wind, Elizabeth’s first race wasn’t as festive as her mom hoped. But at her second event, she laughed and smiled the entire 3.1 miles, and she has now accumulated 15 finishes. “Elizabeth doesn’t show a lot of emotion, so when that happened, we knew it was right,” Robison says. Now, all three of her girls compete (Elizabeth’s twin sisters are also disabled).

Push to the Finish has become a sports league of sorts for the Robisons and other families, and the fun isn’t just for the kids. “Between doctors’ visits and therapy sessions, it can be hard to make friends and relax,” says Anita Miller, mother of 11-year-old JulieLynn, who was born with a rare condition that required doctors to remove half her brain when she was baby. “But at races, we all get to do what typical parents do on weekends with their kids.”

The program has spawned a couple of die-hard competitors. Julie Lynn has earned hardware from nearly 30 races, and when asked what her goals are, she says, “Ragnar!” referring to the 196-mile relay over Utah’s Wasatch Mountain range. Reese Thorne, 10, notched his 49th race recently. He and Stoddard finished a half-marathon last year, and the pair has their sights on a marathon.

14 child-runner teams at a race in Utah.

While the organization targets 5kms, Reese has shown that more can be better for some kids. And so McMahon is adding 10 kms, triathlons, and possibly a half marathon to the roster. “Parents tell me their kids smile more during racing season, so if we can expand that, great,” he says. 

McMahon used to recruit runners through clubs, but the program now speaks for itself. Runner Kimberlee Hummel, a 49-year-old mother of four, saw the group at a race and began volunteering. “Pushing that little girl across the finish, I felt so proud,” she says of her first race.

Many runners feel a renewed sense of purpose. “Racing is no longer just about fast times,” Stoddard says. “Pushing these kids has gotten me more into the simple joy of being out there.”

It’s hard to tell who is more grateful for the program. “The runners are awesome,” Robison says. “Without their legs, our kids couldn’t go.” But runner Angela Green counters, “The runners may push the kids with their legs, but it’s the kids’ hearts that carry everyone across the finish line.”

By MICHELLE HAMILTON

Megan and Mum out running in the Axiom Phoenix
All 3 sizes of the Axiom Endeavour – Size 2.0 (5-14yrs), Size 3.0 (Teens & Young Adults) & Size 4 (Larger Adults)

Charity Fundraising

Running for charity is a great way to be part of something truly worthwhile. Take on a fun run, 5K, 10K or even a marathon – it gives you focus, inspiration and motivation to get over the finish line as well as the chance to raise funds for your chosen charity. Imagine giving the joy of running to a disabled child. This can be an exhilarating experience for you and your child, or why not ask for a helping hand (or feet in this case!) from an experienced runner.

We support our Founder’s Charity, Ellen’s Gift of Hope, which was set up after the tragic death of one of her twin daughters, just after her 16th birthday. Ellen was a kind and compassionate soul and we raise funds to help support disabled children in the North East of England. If you would like to Run for Ellen as one of our volunteers (Ellen’s Angels), please get in touch or go to her website to download a sponsorship form. Thank you for your support, we and the families we help, greatly appreciate it.

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Forgotten Families : Living under Lockdown

Families with children who have life-limiting, life-threatening and terminal illnesses feel more isolated than ever under lockdown, a new study by a hospice charity reveals.

Undertaken by the charity Together for Short Lives, and launched in Children’s Hospice Week, in collaboration with Martin House Research Centre and the University of Southampton, this new study reveals that most families caring for a child with a life-limiting condition have felt even more isolated and alone than normal during the Coronavirus pandemic, with some parents describing that they feel like a “forgotten group”.

The study found that:

  • 93% of families felt isolated during the pandemic
  • 57% said isolation has brought up negative memories
  • 95% are fearful that their child will catch the virus from their parent
  • 93% fear their child’s treatment will be cancelled or delayed.
  • Families are missing out on vital care and support for their child while many services are still suspended.

In response, they’ve called on government to continue to provide support for isolated families of seriously ill children who will understandably be anxious about ending shielding and to begin to restart urgent local education, health and care services.

We have been abiding by the shielding letter and have not left our home not even for a walk for three months now. As you can imagine this has been incredibly difficult for us. (Family taking part in the study)

Feelings of isolation were heightened for several reasons, including the need to shield their child at home, worries about carers coming into their home and the loss of some of their formal and informal support.

The SHARE study is a collaboration between The Martin House Research Centre, Together for Short Lives, and the University of Southampton. The survey was completed by parents, with the majority (77%) completed by mothers. Around 82% of families taking part are supported by their local children’s hospice. So far, 44 parents have taken part.

For families caring for seriously ill children, feelings of isolation and loneliness are already very common, but the coronavirus pandemic has intensified this. Many parents, exhausted after months of providing 24/7 care for their child at home, may choose to carry on shielding their child and family long after social distancing ends because they are extremely nervous about the impact that contracting COVID-19 could have on their household. The SHARE study reveals negative impacts on the wellbeing of the seriously ill child, the parent and other family members. Parents reporting getting few breaks from caring and no ability to engage in activities that have previously helped them to cope, such as going out for a walk, to the shops, or seeing friends.

We are exhausted. My partner and I are doing a job that usually takes a whole team of people. Our relationship with each other has deteriorated. My child is bored, upset and confused. He is in pain as his surgery has been delayed and he cannot have his usual therapy. His learning has stopped and he has regressed without the 1:1 he usually has. My other children have had to stay indoors due to shielding my life limited child. They are generally coping well but have some emotionally challenging days. (Family taking part in the study)

Although some parents reported positive impacts such as spending more time together as a family and life slowing down, most parents reported feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. And parents’ worries and fears about the virus are also impacting on their wellbeing.

We have always known that even the common cold could cause our child a hospital stay and ventilation. This virus has heightened our fear to another level altogether, despite the government advice that it does not appear to affect many children (Family taking part in the study)

Some of the SHARE study’s key findings are:

  • 98% are worried about the virus, and 98% are worried about their child’s health if they get the virus.
  • 93% have felt isolated during the pandemic, and 57% said isolation has brought up negative memories.
  • 89% think their child should be isolated from everyone except immediate family during the pandemic and some families have not left the house at all during the outbreak.
  • 95% are fearful that their child will catch the virus from their parent.
  • 93% fear their child’s treatment will be cancelled or delayed and this has been the experience for some families who have lost vital therapies for their child and had planned procedures cancelled.
  • 59% had struggled to get nursing support during the pandemic, and 66% struggling with in-home care. 86% had experienced difficulties accessing therapies like physio for their child.
  • 95% are worried about nurses or carers coming into their own home and are having to make difficult decisions that involve weighing up the risks and benefits of allowing people into the home.

Families caring for seriously ill children with complex conditions and often requiring 24/7 care, need lifeline support and care from an array of health and social care agencies. And, as they will carry on shielding long after lockdown has lifted, it’s vital that they get the right support. In the study, we asked families what additional support they need.  50 per cent said they need more support from community nursing or health visitors, 50 per cent from their GP, 66 per cent from their child’s hospital or specialist and 61 per cent needed more support from their children’s hospice. Importantly, parents told us that information that is specific to their child is needed to help them make decisions about what to do next.

It feels like the shielded are the forgotten group. The rest of the world is going back to normal, but we won’t be for some time. (Family taking part in the study)

“Coronavirus has changed all of our lives, and families caring for a seriously ill child feel more alone than ever,” says Andy Fletcher, CEO for Together for Short Lives.

“Lockdown has been so tough, and many families will understandably be nervous about ending shielding. The SHARE study mirrors Together for Short Lives’ experience of what families have told us via our helpline and family support services during the pandemic.”

“We are deeply worried about the long-term impact on children and families’ well-being and mental health. It’s vital that these vulnerable children and families get all the support they need, from government, the NHS and other vital services. In particular, we must do all we can to make sure children’s hospices can continue to provide lifeline care.”

The pandemic has hit hospices hard financially and that’s why our Children’s Hospice Week campaign is so important this year – it is vital that we pull together to protect the lifeline care that children’s hospices provide for vulnerable families today, tomorrow and long into the future.

Andy Fletcher, CEO, Together for Short Lives

The UK Government also has an important role to play in helping families of seriously ill children to feel less isolated. Together for Short Lives, in partnership with a coalition of other charities are calling on ministers to:

  • continue to provide support to isolated families of seriously ill children who will understandably be anxious about ending shielding
  • clearly setting out the education, health and social care support that families of seriously ill children are entitled to during the pandemic
  • working to restart the education, health and social care services that vulnerable children and families rely on as quickly and as safely as possible.

The Martin House Research Centre, Together for Short Lives, and the University of Southampton will publish the full findings later in the year.

About the charity Together for Short Lives

We want to help every child and family living with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition get the very best care and support they can so they can make the most of every moment together.

By supporting and speaking up for children and families, and those that support and care for them, we are driving for a better quality of life and end of life for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. We want to help change lives.

Find out more about the charity at: www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk

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Cycling with disabled children

Children who have a disability that affects their mobility can find it difficult to be included in family and friends’ activities. We don’t want any child with special needs to miss out on the opportunity of getting outside and enjoying the freedom of having wind in their hair! Cycling offers a fun and effective way for children of all abilities to enjoy new levels of independence, individual challenge and social contact. Through gentle and controlled limb and joint exercises it teaches coordination and rhythm, develops body and environmental awareness and promotes strength, stamina and general health. And just the fact that they can do the same activity as everyone else is so important for them to feel included and involved.

We all remember our first bike and falling off!

Having your own bike or “wheels” is a rite of passage that sets you on the path to independence. The freedom and thrill to travel in a direction of your own choosing at your own speed…….whether it’s round your garden, a park or out with friends is second to none! Children with special needs can’t always get on their own bike. but they can still have that special feeling of freedom using a trailer, carrier or tag-a-long.

Working out how to cycle with your child when they’re not able to pedal a bicycle by themselves can sometimes seem an overwhelming task. Our experts at Freedom for Kids are here to help families understand the different options available, and if required, help you to seek charity funding where financial assistance is required.

Freedom for Kids has Special Needs Bikes and Child Bike trailers suitable for disabled children allow your whole family to explore trails, go mountain biking, cycling together in the countryside or around town. Disabled children no longer have to miss out on the great outdoors with our fantastic selection of bicycle trailers for children from 1-9 years old.

When children are babies and toddlers, there are plenty of choices, for travelling up front or in the rear in a trailer. However, as children get older and the majority move onto riding their own bikes, for children with disabilities or other special needs, it’s not always possible to move onto a two-wheeled pedal bike, so what are the options as your child gets older and heavier? Here’s a few ideas of the ways you can continue to cycle as a family as your child gets older.

Cargo Bikes

Cargo bikes are another good way of transporting children of all ages. For younger children, the new super-cool Joggster Velo combines all the advantages of our popular Joggster Pushchairs with the flexibility of a bicycle trailer and has enough space for two! Ideal for our younger passengers up to 5 years old, it can accommodate twins, siblings or one child and storage room. There are even options for a parent-facing double carrycot and a baby seat. Perfect for sporty families who love the great outdoors, you can push, jog or bike your way around with your little ones in tow!

Whilst child seats and cargo bikes are a great option and are a very popular way for parents to transport their younger children, they have the disadvantage that the child is not partaking in the cycling themselves – they are merely a passenger. Some kids are happy with that, but others will want to get involved.  So, what are the options available if your child can’t make the transition to a two-wheeled pedal bike?

Trailer Bike or Tagalong for children with special needs

A trailer bike, also known as a tag-a-long may be a good option for your child/children.  They have the freedom of pedaling whilst being pulled along behind an adult bike, and can coast along when they get tired. There are a number of different options available, although most tend to just have a regular bike seat.

If your child needs more support, it’s worth looking at the two different models of the Weehoo bike trailers, which are suitable for children who can hold on but who may or may not want or be able to pedal. There are options for one or two children and cargo carriers (large panniers) for carrying everything you need on your trip out.   Foot straps on the pedals and the adjustable 3-point harness with chest buckle help keep the child secure during the ride.  Hand grips give children something to hold on to and the sprocket and chain are enclosed to keep little fingers grease free and away from harm. There is also a Weehoo Two available if you need to transport twins or two children by bike. Canopy and rain cover accessories are sold separately.

Trailer Trike

With a trailer bike or tagalong there is only a single wheel touching the ground. This means they may feel rather wobbly, especially at speed. This can prove problematic for some children, plus as mentioned additional assistance may be needed with the mounting and dismounting process.  An alternative is a trailer trike, which has two wheels to give a good level of stability for the child being towed, and won’t tip over when you come to a halt.

Independent Bike or Trike

If using an independent bike or trike, for safety reasons, ensure you are aware of your child’s road sense and sense of danger, visual, perceptual and hearing skills and spatial awareness. Spatial awareness is a complex mental skill which allows children to understand their own location and the location of objects in relation to their bodies. In understanding this children then come to learn concepts such as direction, distance and location.

Funding Advice about Bicycles and Tricycles for children

Specialised bikes and trikes may be more expensive than standard cycles and are not funded by local authorities. We can help you find charitable funding for your child and if you’re buying a specialised bike or trike, they will be exempt from VAT. Not all our bike trailers are classed as mobility equipment and some will have VAT applied.

If you require a quote to apply for funding through a Sports Charity or one of the general disabled children’s charities, please contact us and we will be more than happy to prepare a quotation for you. If you would like to talk to us about your family needs, and get expert advice and guidance, please call us and we can talk you through the options we offer and the charity funding process. Please Call Our Helpline: 01670 458624 Today

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Raising Special Needs Twins & Triplets

Raising more than one baby at the same time is incredibly challenging, even when they’re healthy.  It can be overwhelming when parents have premature babies or children who acquire a disability after birth. Parents who are successfully parenting two or more children with special needs, whether it be a medical condition, physical disability or behavioural challenges, emphasise the following points to help other parents:-

Support and Self-Care

Recognize that you will probably grieve for the loss of your child’s normal abilities.  This grief continues throughout life, with parents saying they love their children as they are, but still wish they could have been normal. Honestly recognising and working through the early disappointment, denial, anger, guilt, and fear makes it easier to attend to your children’s practical needs.

Parents of special needs multiples often feel isolated, not fitting in with parents of healthy multiples in local twins clubs, but also not finding their needs fully met by groups of parents with disabled singletons.  Most parents piece together support from a variety of sources, including sympathetic family or friends. 

Some parents reach out to other parents whose children have particular disabilities, and local and national organisations and online forums might be able to introduce you to experienced parents who can offer guidance in coping with your child’s situation. Those who have suffered the death of a child and have survivors with special needs might find parents who have confronted similar challenges through loss and bereavement services.  Many parents find valuable support through the Internet and organisations devoted to their child’s medical condition.
Parents may remember their lost ones on special occasions and birthdays by including a symbol such as an angel or butterfly on the cake, or plan a balloon release, a moment of silence, a poem or prayer reading.

Parents often neglect caring for themselves and the healthier children in their family in their efforts to meet the needs of their challenged children.  This can lead to burnout, deterioration of a marriage, and even temptation to abuse or neglect disabled children. Eat and sleep as well as you can. Make regular dates with your spouse, arrange holidays and respite (rest) breaks to get away from the situation, take time for hobbies, and spend private time with your healthier children.

Train other family members and friends to care for your children so you have dependable babysitters. This is also important in case of an emergency (for instance, your own hospitalisation or urgent travel).  Reliable help with child care and housework is a high priority for any family with multiples, and is essential for your sanity if your children have special needs. Parents should work out a fair division of duties, to avoid one overworked spouse building up resentment. Recruit assistance from family, friends, neighbours, churches, community and charitable organisations–it’s no time to try to be Supermum! Accept all offers of help, and tell people specifically what they can do to help you.

Depression is more common in parents of multiples in general, and is even more likely if one or more of your children have died or are disabled.  The more overall stress, daily hassles and disability-related problems you have to contend with, the greater your risk of depression. Seek mental health care if you feel you’re having serious trouble coping, because effective treatment of your own depression will lead to your children getting better care from you.

Parenting

If your children were born two or three months early, it might be quite awhile before they smile, hold their head up well, or roll over. This delay in development and social responsiveness is discouraging to many parents, especially if children require a lot of care and parents aren’t getting much feedback in return. Many parents find they get more attached to one child than another when one is more fragile after a premature delivery, or if only one has special needs. Most often it’s the healthier one that’s easier to love. Try to recognise when you’re playing favourites, and avoid labeling your multiples with terms like “the clever one, the disabled one” etc. Some parents after a premature delivery, when the children’s chances for health or survival are uncertain, protect themselves by trying not to get too attached to any of them.  This is a normal coping mechanism, but might delay bonding. It may take months, especially with premature babies, but you should gradually fall in love with all of your children. 

Your feelings about your child’s disability may be frustrating and even scary.  Remember that you are grieving the loss of your child’s normal abilities. Depression, feelings of rejection or anger toward your disabled child, fear of overprotecting a healthy one, feeling overburdened at the prospect of caring for two or more disabled babies, guilt at having delivered prematurely and somehow failing your children–all of these are common reactions. Don’t expect more of yourself than you can reasonably accomplish.  Adjusting to a child’s special needs is a slow, gradual process. It may be harder if your child has delays mentally, language delay, deafness, or a severe disability requiring round-the-clock care. Most parents do find their lives less stressful when children reach school age.

Parenting premature or disabled multiples is a complicated juggling act, and you need to set priorities that work for your family.  You may not be able to promptly arrange or afford evaluations and care for each child at the same time. I’ve known parents with two disabled children who postponed investigations and therapy for one child because the needs of the other were more urgent.  Still, be alert for mild problems in your healthier multiples while you’re dealing with your more seriously affected children. Most importantly, all of your children, whether disabled or healthy, need affection and mentally stimulating, enriching experiences at home.

Your children need to be treated as normally as possible.  Set limits and discipline them as you would a child without a disability.  If you have one disabled child and one healthy, it is important not to hold back the healthy child’s development in order to keep them “more like twins.” Older and younger siblings need one-on-one time and attention to their concerns, too. Care must be taken to ensure the healthier children are not overly burdened with caregiver tasks (bathing, dressing, changing, therapies, etc.)  They may be quite attached to their disabled sibling and want to do everything in their power to help, but it is important for them to form friendships with other children their age and to have freedom to play, leaving the adults to manage the special needs child’s care. Balance is the key.  Reading children’s fiction books about disabled multiples may help both your healthy and special needs children feel less alone in their situation.

Economics

Money problems are a major burden for many families with special needs children.  Government assistance may not cover many services, or may impose a limit on reimbursable costs that parents with high-needs children will quickly reach. Many services are income-based, with more help available to low-income parents.  Contact Freedom for Kids Helpline on 01670 458624 if you need help with Specialist Equipment. Local twins & multiples clubs, charitable organisations such as Twins Trust (formerly Tamba) may be able to give advice on funding help available for special needs such as ramps, lifts and changes in your home to accommodate your child’s disability.

Clinical

Visiting babies in the hospital after a premature delivery can be stressful, and for some parents the neonatal intensive care unit will be a second home for months.  Learn early about the hospital’s rules and routines.  You should be respected as an important person in your children’s lives, and encouraged to take part in their day-to-day care.  Try to spend equal time with all of your children, or more time with a very critical child. Parents who feel confused, helpless, or guilty due to the prematurity or disability of their children often feel unworthy of making demands on busy medical staff.  You need to clearly understand your children’s medical conditions, and can ask for written handouts about your children’s illnesses and references to good books about premature babies. Ask for support from the social worker, who might be able to help with transportation needs, or help you find babysitters for older children so you can spend more time at the hospital. If one twin is home and healthy and the other is hospitalised for a very long time, see if your baby can come home for a day on a pass, so siblings and the healthy twin can spend some time away from the hospital with the child who is ill. When it’s time for discharge, be sure you’re comfortable and familiar with any equipment (monitors, oxygen, feeding tube or tracheotomy, etc.) and that a nurse will check on the babies once they are home. Some babies must avoid exposure to others for many months due to risk of infection. This is isolating, but try to keep in touch with family and friends by phone, letters and photos until the doctor okays personal visits.

Some developmental delays don’t become obvious until months or years after delivery.  You should closely question your babies’ doctors if you become concerned about your children’s growth rate or skills. Doctors don’t like to diagnose cerebral palsy, autism, and some other conditions too early. Your child may receive therapy for months without a clear-cut diagnosis, and the therapy, not the medical label for your child’s condition, is the most crucial influence on their future outcome. Once multiples reach school age, more subtle learning disabilities may become apparent, especially if they had very low birth weights. Be alert for problems once they enter school and keep pressure on doctors and the school system to have realistic concerns properly evaluated.

As your children grow, find doctors and therapists that you can work and communicate with.  A paediatrician experienced with special needs children can help coordinate your child’s care with other specialists and therapy providers. Don’t assume professionals always know what is best for your child or that they have all the answers. ASK QUESTIONS if you don’t understand what a doctor has told you about your child’s condition, or are unsure how to perform therapies, when to give medication, etc.  Don’t be afraid to second-guess recommendations that you feel won’t work for your child. If you have doubts about the diagnosis or treatment recommendations given by your child’s doctor, and before any major procedure or experimental treatment, get a second opinion from another qualified specialist. Be realistic in trying to accomplish all the tasks that different specialists and therapists have assigned you.  One woman calculated that her son would require eight hours a day of therapies and treatments that different professionals prescribed, and somehow she was supposed to coordinate meals, naps and time with her healthy child in the course of a day also!  You can only do your best, and make sure your primary pediatrician realizes the full burden of care that your child requires.

Information/Internet

Do your own homework and learn as much as you can about your child’s condition. Write to organisations dedicated to your child’s illnesses. Some local or national parents of multiples groups may have collected valuable information on your child’s disability. Internet medical information and e-mail support groups or bulletin boards can be helpful, but be careful, since medical information in particular is often unreliable.

Some parents feel compelled to find every last piece of information written about their child’s condition.  This apparently unreasonable search for information is part of the coping process.  Every parent wants to make sure their child receives the best possible treatment and that no stone is left unturned where there may be hope of a cure or improvement. If others criticize your search for reliable advice, remind them that you are motivated by your love for your children and your desire to see them get every possible advantage. Before acting on any information you locate, make sure that it is accurate and review it with a knowledgeable doctor or therapist.

Advocate

You are your child’s best advocate. You’ll need to be assertive to get services, financial aid, information, help from medical professionals, and optimal responses from the school system.  It can take a lot of phone calls and letters, but persistence pays off.  Choose your battles wisely and prioritize.  It helps to be organised: keep a list of “Things to Do”, and a medical calendar for doctors’ appointments, therapies, medication start and stop dates, supply ordering, etc. If you have the time, energy and motivation, many parents find it meaningful to educate the public about children with special needs in general, or their child’s illness in particular.  Education decreases ignorance and discrimination toward those with special needs.

The earlier children with special needs can get appropriate therapies and intervention, the better.  Listen to your instincts, and keep the pressure on to get whatever testing needs to be done to verify whether a problem exists.  Don’t be dissuaded by professionals quoting “twin myths” about twins always talking later or developing motor skills later than singletons.  If you feel there is a problem, it is worth discussing with someone knowledgeable. The best person may not be your general pediatrician, but instead a therapist or paediatric specialist.

Advocate for your child in social situations, too.  Friends, family members and parents of multiples clubs may need to learn how to include your child in their gatherings.  Ask about wheelchair accessibility and accommodations for your child’s medical needs, schedule and temperament.  Talk with them in advance about your child’s abilities and difficulties, and invite them to talk and interact with your child, remembering that your child is a PERSON first–the disability comes second!  Children with behavioral difficulties can become overwhelmed in noisy, crowded locations.  Use common sense when planning outings, and be flexible in limiting time spent at long events if your child tires easily.

Learning

Your child’s education is vital. Contact local education services to find out about early intervention and special education services, and identify local school and national resources.  Bring someone with you to Individual Education Health Care Plan meetings to help take notes while you talk with teachers, and prepare a list of concerns and questions in advance.  Many multiples, especially low birth weight children, can develop subtle learning difficulties as they grow older.  Be aggressive in demanding assessments if you feel your child isn’t working up to his or her potential, and insist on whatever adaptations will help your children learn their best. Networking with other local parents of special needs children can give you insight into how responsive and sympathetic your school district is.

Separating healthy and disabled multiples may be difficult for them in school or preschool. It is best to delay or limit separation when possible, since the relationship between multiples is a crucial coping mechanism for many children. A visit by each child to siblings’ classes reassures them all that their siblings are in good hands while they are apart. It also allows classmates to accept and interact with children who have differences.

Be sure the school knows that your child is a multiple. Sometimes teachers think a child is a singleton when a disabled twin is at home, a healthier multiple is at a different school, or a child’s co-multiples have died.  Teachers and counsellors responsible for each child’s welfare need to know about multiple-related psychological issues for both children and parents, especially the practical difficulties of juggling several children’s needs.

Conclusion:

Children with challenges, like all children, need love and care in order to thrive. Seek support and information, and respect the unique bond between your multiples. Look for hidden blessings in your situation, including other wonderful parents and special children you will likely meet. Be optimistic but realistic. Take care of yourself, your spouse and other children as well as your children with disabilities. Aggressively seek financial and practical help from others.  Advocate for your child with medical providers and the school system. Most of all, realise you’re not alone in your struggles.  Others have paved the way and are more than willing to share their discoveries. 

Support Organisations :

The Twins Trust has a specialist support group and co-ordinator for families with special needs multiples. Contact them at :

Twins Trust Manor House, Church Hill,
Aldershot, Hants, GU12 4JU
01252 332 344

www.twinstrust.org

enquiries@twinstrust.org

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Flexible Seating Solutions

Finding a flexible seating system can be an overwhelming task but we’re here to help you find the best one for your child. There are a few basic questions that you need to ask yourself. Here are four to get you started.

Home: Special needs seating systems at home can be diverse. One type of adaptive equipment that is versatile enough to meet many different applications for special needs seating are the Special Tomato Soft Touch Sitters. These adaptive seating systems comes in 5 sizes and 3 different bases that can be fixed or on wheels. This versatility allows this special needs seating system to be used throughout the home for different purposes.

School: In a school setting, mobile seating systems offer the ability to keep a child positioned in their seating system, but still move them around the classroom to different stations as well as move them around the school. This cuts down on the need for multiple seating systems saving the school money. It also allows the child to spend more time learning and interacting with others. The Soft Touch Sitters can be used on Mobile Bases or on Special Tomato Pushchairs allowing a child to use them indoors or on school trips outdoors.

Around the Town: Special needs portable seating solutions are a great option for children who need some support to sit up, but either don’t require a wheelchair or, the wheelchair is too bulky or unsuitable to access where you want to go. The Special Tomato Sitter (and Special Tomato 2-Piece Liners) are designed to give pelvic, and trunk support, for those with mild positioning needs. Another part of their design is that they are created to be portable and versatile to attach to a variety of standard chairs, bases or pushchairs.

The Special Tomato Soft-Touch Sitters are an adaptive seating system that provides support in a variety of sitting positions. The Soft-Touch Sitters come in four different variations:

  1. Sitter Only
  2. Sitter with Floor Wedge (Sizes 1 – 3 Only)
  3. Sitter with Stationary Base
  4. Sitter with Mobile Base

All of the Sitters come with Attachment Straps as a standard feature. This allows you to securely attach the Sitters to a stable dining chair, classroom chair, Special Tomato Pushchair or any of the Special Tomato Bases: Floor Wedge, Stationary Base or Mobile Base.

Getting Around: When it comes to special needs equipment, mobility is of paramount importance. The ability to move freely is essential for child and carer, providing children with solutions for interacting and engaging like never before. Using a mobile special needs seat means a child can easily be rolled from one room to another for mealtime, playtime, bath time and beyond, providing your child with extra freedom of movement. 

Getting the Right Size: It is always important to order a special needs seating system to fit your child now. However, you also want to make sure that there will be years of growth available in the adaptive seating system that you purchase. Most special needs seating systems have plenty of growth built into them. Your child’s most important measurements for fitting a special needs seating system are:

  • Hip Width – corresponds with width of the stander
  • Chest Width – corresponds with width of the stander
  • Shoulder Width – corresponds with width of the stander
  • Seat to Top of Head – corresponds with height of the seat back
  • Seat to Top of Shoulders– corresponds with height of the seat back
  • Thigh Depth – corresponds to the seat depth
  • Foot to Back of Knee – corresponds to the footrest to seat height
  • Weight – corresponds with the maximum weight capacity of the stander

The Sitter with Floor Wedge allows for your child to be fully supported while on the floor. This level of seating is great for interaction between children with special needs and peers that are playing on the floor. The Stationary Base allows children to be close to the floor without caregivers having to transfer them all the way down to the floor. The Stationary Base is equipped with furniture glides to protect your floors. The Mobile Base is the same as the Stationary Base, with the addition of wheels to allow you to move your child around the room or from room to room. Whether it’s circle time at school, playing with friends and siblings at home, eating with the family at the dinner table or “chilling out” with the rest of the family at home, the Special Tomato Soft-Touch Sitters provide exactly the flexible and adaptive seating support that you and your child needs.

The Special Tomato Sitters are intended for children with mild to moderate positioning needs. The special needs Soft-Touch products are made from Special Tomato’s soft to the touch material that has anti-microbial properties, is impermeable to fluids, as well as latex-free and peel- and tear-resistant.

Standard Features Include:

  • Attachment Straps for different Sitter Bases, other standard chairs and strollers
  • Soft contoured seat with anti-thrust seating surface
  • Built-in abductor
  • Contoured head and lateral supports
  • Adjustable 8-point positioning harness that is removable for cleaning
  • 5 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty

Is this Product Right for You?

  • Support for the head back and pelvis is needed in a seated position
  • Supported sitting is a goal for your child
  • Be sure to check Seat Depth, Seat Width & Seat to Top of Head Height to find the right size
  • Questions? Our experienced parents are here to help – Call 01670 458624

Our experienced staff can help you with a proper fit… simply call us on 01670 458624 for advice and support.

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Newlife in the News

New Parliamentary Group for Disabled Children

Newlife has launched a new parliamentary group this week for MPs to focus on making it easier for families to access specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children.

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children launched the first All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Equipment for Disabled Children in the House of Commons on Tuesday 10th March.

 Politicians from across the political spectrum gathered for the inaugural meeting and are committed to improving policies that affect the lives of families with disabled children across the UK.

 APPGs are informal, cross-party interest groups of MPs and Peers interested in a particular issue. Newlife has campaigned for the group to be established for several months in a bid to remove barriers that often prevent disabled and terminally ill children from receiving the right equipment at the right time.

 The APPG on Equipment for Disabled Children is chaired by Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous. Its other members are Peninstone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates; Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire; Islwyn MP Chris Evans; Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant; Airdrie & Shotts MP Neil Gray; Henley MP John Howell; Falkirk MP John McNally; Lord Chris Rennard; Strangford MP Jim Shannon and York Outer MP Julian Sturdy.

 It will respond to the issues Newlife has identified, try and identify solutions and shine a light on best practice.

 Clare Dangerfield, Newlife’s Campaigning and Public Affairs Manager, said: “Every day we hear from families who are struggling to get the vital equipment they need to keep their disabled child safe and comfortable, which is what any parent wants. We are delighted to launch the first APPG on Equipment for Disabled Children as it heralds an important step towards making vital policy changes across the country to help ensure children and their families get the right equipment at the right time.

 “Working across government, the APPG will investigate the reasons that children are suffering and make recommendations for improvement. We know there is not a quick fix but our voice will now be heard at the heart of Government and, through us, decision-makers are listening to the very real struggles families are facing and trying to find ways forward.”

 The APPG’s initial focus will be on Newlife’s #fixthefour campaign which aims to tackle the UK’s equipment crisis facing disabled children and their families. It was launched in 2018 and is a four-point plan which is committed to:

  • ceasing the use of blanket bans for rationing equipment
  • introducing a maximum waiting time for equipment assessments
  • establishing an emergency equipment response service
  • ensuring every disabled child is counted.

 For the last year, Newlife has been lobbying statutory services which refuse to provide specialist car seats to disabled children ‘under any circumstance’ – effectively having a blanket ban in place, something barristers advised was potentially unlawful.

Just 18 months ago, 83% of local authorities across the UK had blanket bans in place on the provision of specialist car seats but today more than 55% of councils can provide car seats following Newlife’s campaign to get them overturned. 

 CAPTION: Pictured at the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Equipment for Disabled Children are (left to right) Co-founder and CEO of Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children Mrs Sheila Brown OBE, Alex Hanrahan from the British Healthcare Trades Association, Lord Chris Rennard, Chairman of the APPG Bambos Charalambous MP, Newlife’s Campaigning and Public Affairs Manager Clare Dangerfield, Neil Gray MP, Newlife’s Operations Director Stephen Morgan and Newlife trustee Kathryn Griffiths.


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All-Terrain Buggies for Disabled Children

Freedom for Kids offer a range of special needs pushchairs that provides parents and carers of disabled children the opportunity to enjoy life with a new perspective of adventure. Perfect for everyday walks, country parks, woodland/mountain trails, day trips to the beach and theme parks….our rugged single and double buggies do it all while providing a comfortable ride for your children – we don’t believe in limits, don’t let your equipment keep you from your adventures and time together as a family!

Ideal for children with mild to moderate needs, whether it be a physical disability, behavioural condition, neurodevelopmental or brain disorder like Autism (ASD/ADHD) or a life-limiting condition that makes it difficult to walk and get outdoors. Our all-terrain buggies allow children to access places where a smaller pushchair or wheelchair just can’t go like nature trails, country parks and woodlands, even the beach! These all-access pushchairs can really help you to get out with your child and change your life, helping them to pursue a more active and inclusive lifestyle, improving the quality of life for the whole family.

No boring models here….all-terrain styling provides a non-medical appearance which is aesthetically pleasing for children and parents alike. Reclining seats provide increased comfort and support for those passengers that need to take a nap or have medical conditions that may require them to be in a reclined position e.g. Epilepsy. Some buggies come with optional postural supports so for those children that lack upper body strength and trunk control, this allows them to be fully engaged with their surroundings.

For children with autism and sensory processing disorders, some of our pushchairs have large canopies that create a “cocoon” effect with the covered sides and overhead protection – this is ideal for those children who can become overwhelmed with the sensory input or for those children who are sun or light sensitive. We can also add additional sun protection to some of our pushchairs, although in the all-terrain category this is limited as these pushchairs are designed for you to be out and about exploring.

So, let’s explore some options………

The Mountain Buggy Duet offers robust engineering and superior functionality in a compact all-terrain pushchair for two younger children. The ideal choice for parents who have a disabled child with medical needs and a sibling, or two disabled children, possibly twins. This all-terrain double buggy is not only a great off-roader but just as happy nipping around town. So, you’re no longer limited getting out and about with your children as you can take your duo and their equipment with you! This pushchair is also available as a single seat and a side bag, handy for keeping medical equipment or shopping.

The Mountain Buggy Duet is the smallest side by side twin pushchair on the market at a compact 65cm wide.  Practical and versatile for newborn twins, baby and toddler or two toddlers up to age 4 years old.

We provide this option for our younger/smaller children and their siblings. Although not specifically designed for children with special needs, this double buggy may be suitable for some parents whose children have either outgrown their standard pushchairs or those requiring a buggy with a parent-facing option, perhaps where their child has medical conditions which need close parental supervision and support.

For younger children, a good single option is the Joggster Trail v2 which is a three-wheeled buggy with an option to add an innovative 2nd seat so you can ‘shuttle’ two children from A to B in style. A sturdy, sporty looking pushchair which is suitable for younger children with special needs and with the rear Shuttle Seat added it becomes a tandem buggy fit for two!

For most standard buggies the increased weight of the child is a limiting factor but not so for the superior build quality of the Joggster Trail Buggy as it has a roomy front seat with an extra large weight capacity of 34kg (5 Stone/approx 5-6 years old) – if you’re adding the optional 2nd Shuttle Seat to make a Joggster Trail Double Buggy, this has a 15kg weight limit (approx 3-4 years old). Passenger Height on main seat approx: 112cm

This is an all-terrain double buggy with a fixed or swivel front wheel. This updated model offers something new and exciting for families with children who have physical, mobility or behavioural disabilities, as well as their siblings, helping them pursue a more active lifestyle and getting out and about as a family.

The Joggster Sport v2 is a brand new 3-wheeled all-terrain buggy for sport-loving parents! We’ve added this to our range for younger children with special needs as we feel it offers something new for parents and has a roomy seat and a fantastic weight capacity for children who have outgrown a standard sized pushchair. Max weight capacity is 34kg and Max passenger height approx: 110cm

This pushchair has features that make it perfect for the more active parents amongst you. If you like jogging and want to take your child with you, then this sporty version of the Joggster could be for you. The buggy has been approved for speeds up to 15km(9 miles)/hr. The large 16-inch Schwalbe air-filled tyres have the best running performance and you won’t feel much roll resistance. The new model comes with a frame partly made of carbon which not only adds stability, but it saves weight also. With the optional rotating front wheel, the speedster is even more manoeuverable and comfortable ideal for shopping! The new rims make this Joggster look even more sporty and agile… there’s no doubting, this is a super-cool looking buggy!

The Special Tomato Jogger offers an ideal special needs buggy for the family who like to be out and about. The stylish jogger provides the comfort and positioning needed for you and your child to enjoy the outdoors. A lightweight, all terrain pushchair designed for children requiring minimal to moderate positioning, suitable from early years to the older child up to approximately age 10-12 years old (max weight limit is 50kg and max Passenger height (with canopy) 135cm).

From a practical point of view, the washable upholstery is reversible, so that the canvas side can be used in the summer and the fleece side in the winter. It combines all these features you would expect from a buggy with positioning for your child, including a 5 point harness. The seated position is a little more laid back and the elevated footrest provides the passenger with a comfortable position, it suits those children who may like to ‘escape’ too as it is more difficult to get out of!

And for kids who need a little more positioning, the Size 1 and 2 Soft-Touch Liners and Soft-Touch Sitters can be inserted into the Special Tomato Jogger and an optional head support attached. The Soft-Touch Liner easily attaches to offer contoured body support for additional positioning and the pushchair still folds with it in place. Adding Soft-Touch Sitters will provide more trunk support for your child. Both sold separately. There is also the option to add a 2nd side seat for a younger sibling to make a double buggy.

The Axiom Endeavour special needs pushchair provides older disabled children, their families and caregivers the opportunity to enjoy life with a new perspective of adventure. Suitable from age 5 to 16 years old, this large all-terrain pushchair is perfect for everyday walks, country parks, woodland and off road mountain trails, day trips to the beach or theme parks….the Axiom Endeavour does it all while providing a comfortable ride for your child. We don’t believe in limits, don’t let your mobility difficulties keep you from fulfilling your adventures and spending time together as a family!

The Axiom Endeavour all-terrain special needs buggy for disabled children will take you where no other paediatric mobility pushchair can follow! Designed for use both indoor or outdoors, the stylish jogging stroller easily glides over smoother surfaces and handles rougher terrain like grass, gravel and even sand with ease!  The Axiom Endeavour combines the off-road ability of a multi-terrain stroller, the lean agility of an urban jogger, and the comfort, support and positioning needs for both children and adults with mild to moderate physical disabilities. Max weight capacity is 75kg (12 Stone)

Ready to tackle any terrain, Axiom Endeavour Special Needs Pushchair comes standard with hand and foot brakes, large multi-position sun canopy with peek-a-boo window, a height-adjustable handle, large storage basket, and built in removable storage pouches and two water bottle holders. The quick-fold lever allows you to fold your buggy in one simple step and folding up in seconds. It comes with the traditional fixed front wheel as standard but if you’re going to use a lot indoors then you may want to add the optional swivel wheels.

Reconditioned Models

Our range of reconditioned single and double pushchairs have all been checked and cleaned and offer excellent value for money. One of these is the Advance Mobility Independence Pushchair designed for use by older children who may have a physical disability and cannot walk or challenging behaviour and needs to be kept safe. Suitable from 5 to around 13 years, with a maximum weight capacity of 45kg (7 Stone), this all-terrain pushchair is ideal for getting outside to the countryside, beaches, woodlands and, of course, around town too. The larger frame, wheels and higher seat base making it ideal for larger and/or taller children who have outgrown a standard pushchair.

The larger, strong yet lightweight frame, taller ‘hammock style’ padded seat, which can be reclined, adjustable 5-point harness and longer seat to footplate distance all accommodate a larger child or your adult with mild to moderate needs in comfort. For children who need postural support, you may wish to look at other models we have where this can be incorporated.

The Independence is designed for the active, outdoor or sport-loving family and is a great off-roader, allowing you to access the places a wheelchair isn’t suitable. Anywhere, any time, whether it be to a country park, woodlands or beaches, or why not try your hand at doing a charity fun run or marathon. The Advance Mobility Independence by Baby Jogger has a fixed front wheel for extra stability across rougher terrain, although it can be used around town too.

These re-conditioned pushchairs have been pre-loved by another family with a disabled child and are in good condition. They will come with a rain cover and sometimes additional accessories which will be stated for each package. There is no warranty on these pushchairs. We only have limited stock and they always go quickly, so if you are interested please call us today on our Helpline: 01670 458624 and we’ll be happy to help you.

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Disabled Children’s Charities (A-Z)

Special Needs Equipment Charity Funding (Alphabetical A to Z)

Before you seek charitable funding or purchase equipment for your child/ children, we recommend that you speak to us for some initial advice – our Helpline is open Mon, Tues & Thurs 9.30am-4pm Tel: 01670 458624 and we can talk you through what is available and what may suit your needs best.

Freedom for Kids supports families caring for children with special needs by providing specialist equipment for disabled children, particularly single and double buggies, that help children lead a more active family life. Our support is for ALL families – you may one child, twins or two different age siblings or you may even have a larger family of 3 children or more. Children may have a specific disability that limits their mobility such as Hypermobility, Cerebral Palsy or a life-threatening condition such as a heart defect or Epilespsy. Perhaps they have challenging behaviour and you need a pushchair for safety reasons e.g. ASD (Autism), Down’s Syndrome. We have supplied buggies and equipment for children with Brain Injuries, Downs Syndrome, Leukemia, Heart conditions, Limb deficiency, Aspergers’ Syndrome, Genetic Chromosome Disorders, rare conditions such as Addison’s Disease, Gilbert’s Syndrome and FOP, along with many other conditions that affect their ability to get and about safely with their family.

Whatever the reason or disability, we are here to help and support you with information and advice on what specialist mobility equipment is available and what would be suitable for your needs. We also supply special schools with single and double buggies, helping more children to get out and about.

Many families are finding that equipment and/or adaptations for their children cannot be funded by statutory services (e.g. NHS Wheelchair Services) and are therefore seeking alternative funding means, in particular charitable funding. To assist you in these situations, we have listed a range of local and National charities, many who have provided funding support to parents.

You may need to talk to your medical advisor / health professional to help you plan for both immediate and long term needs and to check whether the equipment you need can be provided by the statutory services (if this hasn’t already been investigated). Most charity applications require the support of a qualified health or medical professional and we can provide you with a quotation to submit with your application. We are also happy to talk directly with your health professional or family support organisation should this be required.

my AFK (formerly Action for kids) www.my-afk.org

my AFK is a national charity working with children and young people with physical and learning disabilities and their parents and carers. They help disabled children, young people, their parents and carers in three main ways: by providing mobility aids, work related learning and by offering family support services.

The Boparan Charitable Trust (www.theboparancharitabletrust.com)

The Boparan Charitable Trust aims to help children and young people up to the age of 18, throughout the UK, who are disadvantaged either through poverty, disability or life-limiting conditions. What they supply: Grants towards mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, trikes, and buggies, sensory toys and equipment, speech and language therapist, holidays

Caudwell Charitable Trust (www.caudwellchildren.com)

Caudwell Children is a National Charity that exists to transform the lives of disabled children and their families across the UK. Applicants must live in the UK, be 18 or under and fit the Charity’s financial criteria. They can provide the following equipment: powered wheelchairs, buggies, car seats, therapy tricycles and sensory equipment. In addition they can provide funding for specific therapies for children affected by CP/acquired brain injury and Autism. For further information please contact 0845 300 1348.

The Child Foundation (www.thechildfoundation.co.uk)

The Child Foundation helps children across the UK up to the age of 18 with disabilities and/or special or specific care needs and/or terminal illnesses and their families by providing grants and equipment not normally provided by the statutory authorities. What they supply: Grants towards mobility equipment, communication equipment, specialist seating and hoists, and holidaysC

Comedians’ Golfing Society (London & Kent)

The Comedians Golfing Society has been active for over 40 years and has raised hundreds of thousands to support individuals. This support can range from supplying adapted tricycles, specialist car seats, mood lighting for sensory rooms and powered wheelchairs. Children and Young Adults, within 50 miles of London with any Disability .

Children Today Charitable Trust (www.childrentoday.org.uk/)

Children Today raises funds to provide special equipment for children and young people with disabilities throughout the UK. Their aim is to ensure that every disabled child and young person fulfils their potential and leads an active childhood. Funds donated by their supporters enables them to provide grants to purchase special equipment such as: electric wheelchairs, walking aids, trikes, educational toys (specially designed for children with disabilities), communication aids, adapted car seats, lifting and sleep equipment.

Elifar (www.elifarfoundation.org.uk)

Elifar aims to help improve the quality of life mainly of profoundly disabled children and young adults, whether living at home or in residential care, but they might also consider applications from children and adults of all ages with any form of physical or learning disability. They fund the purchase of a wide range of specialised equipment, therapies and respite, which would otherwise be unavailable because of a lack of funds or because there is no statutory provision.

Engage Foundation (www.engagemutual.com/foundation/)
The Engage Foundation aims to give funding to community projects nominated by their customers, as well as giving financial aid to customers in need in the form of Personal Grants. The Personal Grants can include applications from parents needing help to pay for equipment for disabled children.

Family Action (www.family-action.org.uk)
Family Action has small grants available for medical treatment, services, facilities or equipment (including communication aids) for those who are sick or physically disabled. Supporting evidence is required from a relevant professional. There is also a general grants program which can meet needs such as clothing, fuel bills and household needs such as beds, cookers and washing machines. In addition to providing general grants, Family Action also provide grants for educational needs, particularly for the additional costs associated with education such as travel, books and equipment. Assistance is primarily targeted at families and individuals on low incomes, particularly those living on benefits. Funds are not available for items covered by statutory funding.

Family Fund (www.familyfund.org.uk)

The Family Fund helps low-income families caring for a severely disabled child up to age 17 in Scotland and Northern Ireland and up to age 18 in England and Wales. They give grants for things that make life easier and more enjoyable for the disabled child and their family, such as washing machines, driving lessons, hospital visiting costs, computers and holidays. Family Fund cannot assist where there is a responsibility on a statutory agency to help with the requested item.

Handicapped Children’s Action Group (www.hcag.org.uk)


Handicapped children’s action group is a registered charity, working to provide specialist equipment for children with disabilities, learning difficulties and other special needs. The children, from all areas of the UK are unable to obtain this equipment from the NHS and because of the cost it is usually unaffordable by the families.

The Hope Foundation for Children (www.childrenshopefoundation.org.uk)
Aims to improve the lives of children and young people affected by illness, disability or poverty. They provide funding for anything (with a few exceptions) that will benefit the child such as mobility and medical equipment, holidays etc

Independence at Home (www.independeathome.org.uk)
Independence at Home provide grants for people with a disability or long-term illness towards the cost of adaptations, equipment or other things to help you to manage at home. The grant must go towards an item to assist a child to live at home. Independence at home cannot provide grants when the item may be provided through public funds. Applications must be supported by a professional involved in the child’s care, usually an occupational therapist or a social worker.

Joseph Patrick Trust (www.muscular-dystrophy.org)
The Joseph Patrick Trust (JPT) is the welfare trust of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. The trust provides financial support towards specialist equipment to help promote mobility and independence for people with muscular dystrophy, or a related muscle disease. For example, powered wheelchairs, adapted computers and electric beds. The grants cover pieces of equipment that the health and social services do not provide, but which are still vital for maintaining independence and quality of life.

Just4Children – http://www.just4children.org

Just4Children provides support for families to help their sick and disabled children. They are passionate about the relief of sickness and preservation of health of children in the UK and Ireland by providing and assisting in the provision of grants to enable them to obtain medical treatment, therapies, living environments, equipment and holidays which would not otherwise be available to them. Just4Children Tel: 01892 710155

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children(www.newlifecharity.co.uk)

Newlife provides grants for equipment for disabled children. The equipment applied for must be essential and disability relevant. The equipment can vary from a wheelchair or a bed through to a communication aid and therapy equipment shed, they have also funded equipment such as replacement clothing and braille machines. Newlife do not fund adaptations and fixtures to homes. All applications need to be supported by professionals who can specify the particular type of equipment needed in the interest of the children’s welfare, safety and benefit. The grants are open to benefit all seriously disabled and terminally ill children that are permanently resident in the UK and who are 18 years or under. Newlife don’t means test, but due to limited funds they do take a view of the whole circumstances of the family.

Lifeline 4 Kids (www.lifeline4kids.org)

Lifeline 4 kids provides essential equipment to help improve the quality of life for children (0-18 years) with disabilities and special needs. For the individual child they provide the full spectrum of specialised equipment such as electric wheelchairs, mobility aids and varying items including specialised computers. They are also one of the only UK charities prepared to help a special needs child from a low-income family with essential smaller items such as shoes, clothing, bedding and specialist toys.

The Nihill Armstrong Trust (www.nihalarmstrongtrust.org.uk)

The Nihill Armstrong Trust is a small charity that provides children (up to and including 18 years of age) with cerebral palsy with essential pieces of equipment, communication aids or specific services that their local authority does not provide. The grants are for equipment items under 2000 and the application must be supported by the child’s doctor, school, social worker, health visitor, speech, occupational therapist or physiotherapist.

React (Rapid Effective Assistance for Children with potentially Terminal illness)(www.reactcharity.org)
React is a charity working to improve the quality of life for financially disadvantaged children with life-limiting illnesses living in the UK. They supply a wide range of equipment from specialist wheelchairs, beds, baths, and mobility aids, to essential everyday items like washing machines and tumble dryers.

Strongbones Childrens Charitable Trust (www.strongbones.org.uk)
Strongbones have funds available to donate towards arthritis, scoliosis, brittle bone disease and all other conditions of the bone. To be eligible the child must be under 18 years of age, and suffer from one of these ailments. They provide grants for medical equipment, computers/software, toys, sensory equipment, short breaks away, days out and proven household bills. Grants are normally 250 per child, but this figure is open to discussion depending on the child’s circumstances.

Trefoil (www.trefoil.org.uk/)

Trefoil helps young people across the UK under the age of 25 years with special needs which may be psycho/social or of a physical nature or both which may adversely affect their development and/or independence. What they supply: Grants towards mobility equipment such as powered and manual wheelchairs and trikes, projects, and events

Variety Club, The Children’s Charity (www.varietyclub.org.uk)
The Variety Club works to help improve the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people up to the age of 19 years across the UK, providing basic items that will improve the lives of individual children. Each year they donate electric wheelchairs, specialist beds, car seats, sensory equipment, standing frames and many other items that can change the life of a child in need.

Wipe Away Those Tears (www.wipeawaythosetears.org)

Wipe Away Those Tears is an Essex-based local charity which aims to bring a sparkle into the lives of terminally or seriously ill children. They do not accept applications for Autism. They have provided double buggies for families with special needs children and a range of specialist equipment to Essex families. They hold an annual charity ball and the founder and mum of four, Gail O’Shea, has raised over 1.2 million for her charity and was named Tesco’s Mum of the Year in 2015.

Whizz-Kidz (www.whizz-kidz.org.uk)
Whizz-Kidz provides essential mobility equipment – primarily electric powered wheelchairs and recreational equipment such as trikes – that are customised to meet individual children’s needs. The service ensures children get the right mobility equipment, advice and training at the right time. The wheelchair training programme includes improving the use of your wheelchair, new wheelchair skills and road safety awareness.

Find out more about our range of Special Needs Equipment and visit our Resource Centre for information and advice on children with special needs. If you have any questions or would like help with applying for charity funding, please call our Helpline on 0670 458624, we’re here to help 😊

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Charity Funding for Specialist Pushchairs

How can I apply for funding for a special needs pushchair?

Every day I get asked Can you help me? I don’t know what to do as my disabled child (children) needs a buggy and the NHS can’t help / won’t fund it / have offered me something that doesn’t meet our needs…I have two children and need a double buggy….I can’t afford a pushchair….HELP, I don’t know where to turn!

Whatever disability your child or children have, I’m sure we can help you find a suitable pushchair for them. We have helped families who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Global Developmental Delay (GDD), Sensory Processing Disorder, Behavioural conditions, Genetic disorders, Chromosome abnormalities, Heart defects, Hypermobility, Brain Injury, Epilepsy and many other life-limiting or terminal conditions. Whether you’re a parent of a disabled child, a foster carer or have adopted disabled children, please get in touch and we will endeavour to do our very best for you and your family.

Whether it’s a single stroller or double special needs buggy you need or perhaps you have one or two disabled children and/or siblings, you may even have a baby on the way and an older disabled child who’s got way too big, tall or heavy and now outgrown their standard buggy. You may even have a young child with a condition and need to carry medical equipment. Whatever your needs are, we are a friendly team who want to help and we do this by talking to you about your specific requirements for your disabled child / children AND your needs as a family unit.

Don’t worry – we will guide you through what paediatric and mobility equipment is available for your children whether it’s a basic stroller, a 4-wheeled pushchair, a 3-wheeler all-terrain buggy or a tilt-in-space pushchair and if you need a single or double buggy, we can advise on options for a second child. We understand that often parents don’t want a medical-looking pushchair and we have buggies that won’t shout ‘I’m a disabled child’. We will do our best to find you the most appropriate pushchair for your disabled child and one that will allow you to get out and about with ALL your family.

Sometimes we have to be creative and this is where our experience comes in handy, we know what’s out there on the market, AND what’s not! We have been able to help thousands of parents over the last 15 years and whilst there has never been a wide choice for pushchairs for disabled children, there are some really good buggies for children from 2 years upwards and we even have super large pushchairs for teenagers and young adults. If you have two or three children to transport then this is where our knowledge and experience is invaluable as we have been able to accommodate most circumstances and provide a practical pushchair option to families who have been struggling to get and about with their children.

You can find all our pushchairs suitable for disabled children under our ‘Shop’ categories. Here you will find single pushchairs and double buggies and should you need extra seats for a second or third child, then we have other options that we can talk you through. Our most popular options are the Joggster Trail, which now has a new 2nd seat called the Shuttle, making it into a great option for a disabled child and a toddler in toe on the back! The Special Tomato Jogger is a great option for the older, taller child (can also have a side seat). The Special Tomato EIO can be turned into a double buggy for two children or for one disabled child and their younger sibling by adding a Buggypod side seat (or a rear Perle seat). For larger children, teenagers and adults we have the Axiom Endeavour, which is a super-big all-terrain pushchair and if you have two disabled children to transport, there is the ultimate customised double pushchair – the Axiom Endeavour Double Buggy is two single pushchair that lock together to make a double and then release to go back to 2 singles…how nifty is that!

We can help you access financial support through our work with charities

We will also help by taking you through the process by which you can apply for charity funding for your children’s mobility equipment and we have a list of some of the organisations that could possibly help you fund pushchairs or other equipment for your disabled child. We work with many charities and NHS Wheelchair Services (direct supply or via NHS Voucher) s our list is not exhaustive and there are many other charities as well as local or regional organisations that may help you, please let us know as we like to add new charities to our list so we can help many more families.

And help can come in many forms e.g. St Austell’s Brewery in Cornwall, Champney’s Hotels and even Radio Stations have funded special needs buggies – so don’t just think about those charities you may have heard of…ask around, look in the local paper, communicate with others on general special needs or condition-related forums, use social media (there are lots of support groups on Facebook) and Google to seek out anyone who may be able to help you. We find that local organisations are very willing to fund equipment to help local people and they are generally quicker to make a decision!! We are fortunate to have worked with many fantastic local, regional and National charities and are grateful for all buggies they have funded which has helped to improve the lives of thousands of families.

We also provide advice and equipment to some of the UK’s largest charities like Newlife Charity for Disabled Children, Whizz–Kidz and Caudwell Children as well many NHS Wheelchair Services, Primary Care Trusts, Family Support Workers, Occupational Health Therapists and many other people who may be involved with assessing and/or advising parents and carers of disabled children. Outside the home, we have also provided Special Schools with single and double buggies for children with a wide range of disabilities and different ages, allowing them to take more children out and take part in activities which they may not have been able to before.

If you are waiting for a referral to NHS Wheelchair Services or have been turned down for a pushchair, then please get in touch as we can often help you apply for funding and supply a pushchair. We have found many parents spend a long time waiting to see wheelchair services only to find that they are not eligible for a pushchair or that the NHS are unable to supply an appropriate buggy, particularly when you have two children. We can help you as we have a range of options for two children, and have even managed to help families with 3 or more children too.

If you have children under 3 years old, you may not even get referred as they don’t generally see children before this age. However, your child may have special needs, or have a medical condition that requires them to be in a different type of pushchair, perhaps a parent facing pushchair so you can monitor them closely, or perhaps you need to carry medical equipment alongside your child. It may even be that your child may be very big for their age and have outgrown their buggy and need something more robust. Either way, when the NHS cannot help, we probably can, so please give us a call on our helpline. We’re here to help you get the support you need.

When applying for funding you will need to provide evidence of your child/children’s disability, information on your family circumstances and in some cases, family finances. For evidence supporting your application, ask for a report/letter from health professionals like your child’s Occupational Therapist (OT), Physiotherapist, Health Visitor or even their GP. You can also ask a Social Worker, Family Support Worker or SENCO for a supporting reference. Your OT / Wheelchair Service may be able to advise you on the most appropriate condition-specific charity. We have lists of charities in our Rersource Centre, the majority may be able to provide funding even if you do not have a specific condition. If you would like more help and advice on either who can support your application or which charity to apply to then please call our HELPLINE on 01670 458624 and we will be happy to help.

Our Helpline Number is 01670 458624 or Email us at: info@freedomforkids-co-uk.stackstaging.com

You can find specialist mobility equipment including buggies, postural supports, seating aids and pushchair accessories under the shop on our website

We hope this gives you some help and guidance in your search, however PLEASE CALL US on our HELPLINE 01670 458624 for more advice and support – we have had over 15 years experience in the special needs community and we are here to help you and your family.