Down Syndrome London, From Land’s End to Peckham
Here’s a challenge for you: Do you think you could walk 300 miles, from Land’s End to Peckham? Quite a difficult feat.
But some fifteen children with Down syndrome managed to cover that journey and more — for a total of 457 miles among them — in a virtual walk to raise funds for a charity near and dear to their hearts, Down’s South London. Along the way, the DSL Kids Walk 300 team has raised nearly £40,000, just £10,000 shy of their 2020 goal.
Charity chair Gun Akyuz is particularly proud of the children, aged just 2 to 9 years old, in light of the difficulties posed by Covid-19 restrictions:
Small charities like ours rely very much on the local events we run through the year, and our fundraising has really suffered due to the pandemic,” she shared. “But we are absolutely blown away by how well our children have done in this year’s challenge, both in terms of the distance they have covered and the money they have raised. Their determination is inspiring and we are incredibly proud of all of them.
DSL is based in Peckham and offers free therapy services to families including early intervention speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, and occupational/sensory therapy, delivered by a team of highly skilled therapists with specialist knowledge of how young children with Down syndrome develop. Each child is provided with a personalised weekly multi-disciplinary therapy programme to assist their development in all areas and to lay the foundation for them to grow into independent adults who contribute actively to society. Services are paid for by voluntary donations and through a range of fundraising initiatives by DSL’s trustees, families, friends and well-wishers.
All fifteen of the DSL Kids Walk 300 Challenge team are either current or former recipients of DSL’s therapy services. The physical challenge required for such a walk is particularly demanding for children with Down syndrome, as many may have some level of hypotonia or low muscle tone. This means that for many, it has taken longer to learn to walk than it would for a typically developing child. But if you meet Leila (9), Theodora (6), Tristan (5), Imany (5), Beth (5), Eugene (5), Elliott (4), Orla (4), Zephy (3), Lucy (3), Ned (3), Mara (2), and Olive (2), you will realise within minutes that no challenge is beyond them.
Over the past 22 years, DSL has supported hundreds of children and their families not only by providing therapy but also through its family support network. This network provides much needed support and information sharing as well as valuable friendship opportunities for parents and carers and the children themselves.
Tamsin and Cameron, parents of Theodora, said,
DSL is so much more than this wonderful therapy. It also provides our family with a support network which operates not just on a practical level but also a social and emotional level. We are part of an amazing local community which shares ideas and experiences, and is an abundant source of help and advice.
Olive’s parents Stacey and Stu added,
DSL has unlocked Olive’s ability to communicate with confidence, and the therapists have helped us to work therapeutic practices into our daily routine. They approach their work with enthusiasm, skill and a great deal of warmth.”
Mara’s mother Aelene shared,
Having a child with Down syndrome can be overwhelming, but DSL took us under their wing from the start. With their help, education and support we now feel confident as parents that Mara will reach her full potential and that we are in the best hands possible.
The DSL Kids Walk 300 Challenge Team are sharing their progress on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Donations can be made via the team’s Virgin Money Giving page.
For additional information on Down’s South London or to donate to the charity, visit here.
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