Cash For Your Community 2018: How your tokens help children to walk
Little Josh Home crawls across the floor, excitedly placing his hand on images beamed down from a machine above. As he forcibly splats the pictures, they disappear, only to reappear on another part of the floor, causing Josh to rush towards them.
Watching Josh energetically scrambling across the floor, it seems hard to believe that just a few years ago he was unable to even sit up in a chair unaided.
"Just before his second birthday we were told Josh would be in a vegetative state for much of his life," says his father Matt.
"He can now walk about independently with the use of a walking aid," adds mother Sarah.
Josh, now seven, who lives with his parents on the outskirts of Bridgnorth, is even able to play football with his friends. And this is thanks in no small part due to the work of The Movement Centre, a pioneering charity which uses specialist therapies to help children with mobility problems.
Cash For You Community 2018:
- £20,000 charity giveaway returns - full details
- Online application form - with full terms & conditions
The equipment Josh is using is known among staff as "the magic carpet". The £10,000 machine, which has been bought with the help of our 2017 Cash For Your Community scheme, helps youngsters like Josh develop the use of their limbs by monitoring their movements and responding interactively.
Josh, who had suffered from brain scarring as a result of an metabolic condition, is one of the hundreds of youngsters who have seen their lives transformed by the Movement Centre, which provides a unique therapy system from its modest base in a portable building in the grounds of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt orthopaedic hospital.
"A lot of the children who come here will learn to walk during their time with us," says head of fundraising, Victoria Handbury-Madin.
"It's incredible when you see that.
"But we also have children here who have been unable to sit up without holding themselves each side, if they move one of their hands they fall over, which is obviously difficult for them as they can't do anything.
"Some children who have attended the centre for nine to 12 months have gained head control, which enables them to interact with their family and friends, or have been able to sit unaided so that they can play."All of the children who visit the charity have a disability, such as cerebral palsy, which affects their movement control. Targeted training helps children gain functional skills and independence, which can truly transform their lives."
She says the youngsters often defy the expectations of doctors with the way they respond to the treatments.
The Movement Centre was the biggest beneficiary of last year's Cash For Your Community scheme, receiving £5,000 from the scheme run by the Shropshire Star in partnership with Enterprise Flex-E-Rent.
Victoria says she was amazed by the public response to the scheme, where charities are invited to collect tokens printed in the newspaper to win a share of a £20,000 dream fund.
"It was fantastic for us, it was a complete surprise," she says.
"We had no idea we would be in the top three, we were just delighted to have been selected.
"We have been a charity for quite a long time, but we had been quiet about it.
"As well as getting the money, all the coverage in the Shropshire Star was really good, and it was lovely to meet the people from the other organisations."
The charity was formed in 1996, and initially focused on the research and development of the new therapies.
"In the last few years we have seen a lot of children who are really benefitting from, but there are still a lot of people who haven't heard of us.
"But now we are ready to grow and help more and more children."
Victoria says she was humbled by the support the charity received from the community in Shropshire during last year's Cash For Your Community Campaign, and will definitely be applying for this year's scheme.
"We had many people writing in, some did not include a return address, but they said they had read about what we did in the Shropshire Star, and sent us their tokens," says Victoria.
"It is really nice that so many people chose to support us."
Sarah says the new machine plays an important role in keeping Josh, who is a pupil at Severndale Specialist Academy in Shrewsbury, engaged with his therapy.
"It keeps him interested, is helps him stretch and reach out, it is much more better than being told to do different exercise," she says.
The "magic carpet" was also part-funded with donations from the Lord's Taverners charity and the Co-op, and the centre is funded almost entirely from public donations and fundraising efforts.
"It costs around £300,000 a year to provide our services, but we are looking to grow and help more children," says Victoria.
"We had 74 children on our books last year, but we are looking to help more."
Victoria says while the centre is based in the hospital grounds, it is not funded by the NHS.
"For some of the children we get some funding from the NHS to come here, but it's not very many any more," she says.
"We want to grow and see more and more children, to change the lives of more children."
Visit our partners Enterprise Flex-E-Rent's website here at flexerent.co.uk