15 children with Downs Syndrome beat all expectations

A group of fifteen children with Downs Syndrome – who began a virtual challenge to complete a 300-mile journey almost a month ago to raise funds for a charity they love and depend on – have today crossed their socially distanced finish lines, raising nearly £40,000 in the process. 

15 children with Downs Syndrome beat all expectations

The children, aged from just 2 to 9 years old, set out to cover the equivalent distance from Land’s End to Peckham in south London, but have in fact chalked up an incredible 457 miles between them.

Down’s South London Kids Walk 300 Challenge

15 children with Down’s Syndrome beat all expectations

The Downs South London KIDS WALK 300 challenge is raising money for Downs South London (DSL), a small charity based in Peckham, to replace more than £50,000 of lost income that the charity has suffered this year due to the pandemic. The service offered free to families, is paid for by voluntary donations and through a range of fundraising initiatives by DSL’s trustees, families, their friends and supporters. 

Chair of Downs South London Gün Akyuz said: 

“Small charities like ours rely very much on the local events that we run through the year, so our fundraising has really suffered as Covid-19 restrictions have put so many of our usual fundraisers on hold. We are absolutely blown away by how well our children have done in this 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. 

15 children with Down’s Syndrome beat all expectations

“In addition, as a result of the publicity surrounding the challenge, two new families have found Downs South London and their children are now being supported by our amazing therapy team as well, which is just fantastic.”

Angela Gough, a parent trustee who came up with the original idea added: 

“We weren’t sure they would be able to cover the whole distance in a month, but they’ve not only reached Peckham, but they’ve also gone beyond and done a victory lap of the M25 as well! Their efforts have inspired so many generous supporters to donate and we are now just £10,000 away from plugging the gap in our funding and securing the children’s therapy into the future, which is nothing short of amazing.”

15 children with Down’s Syndrome beat all expectations

All the children participating in the challenge are either current or former recipients of DSL’s therapy services, which provide a unique package of 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 Downs Syndrome develop.

This physical challenge is particularly demanding as children with Downs Syndrome typically have some level of hypotonia, or low muscle tone, which for many means it has taken longer to learn to walk than it would for a typically developing child.

15 children with Downs Syndrome beat all expectations 1

The determined fundraisers are (in age order): Leila (9), Theodora (6), Tristan (5), Imany (5), Elijah (5), Beth (5), Emma (5), Eugene (5), Elliott (4), Orla (4), Zephy (3), Lucy (3), Ned (3), Mara (2) and Olive (2).  

The group are sharing their progress on FacebookInstagram and TwitterDonations can be made via the team’s Virgin Money Giving page

About Down’s South London (DSL)

15 children with Downs Syndrome beat all expectations 2

Founded in 1998, Downs South London provides vital free services to children with Down’s Syndrome and their families in South London. The children access a unique package of early intervention speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy from a team of highly skilled therapists with specialist knowledge. Over the last 22 years, it has supported hundreds of children and their families. DSL is also a family support network, providing much-needed support and information sharing as well as valuable friendship opportunities for parents/carers and the children themselves. Our service is paid for by voluntary donations and through a range of fundraising initiatives by DSL’s trustees, families, friends and wellwishers. We’re run by a group of parent volunteer trustees to ensure all proceeds go directly to the therapy service.

Why is DSL therapy special? 

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DSL’s service targets areas of therapy that are too often either unavailable to families, too infrequent or not specialised enough to make a real difference to our children. Early intervention is vital and, with waiting lists for the NHS growing, we encourage early referrals, right from birth. 

DSL’s specialist therapists see each child weekly, providing them with a personalised multi-disciplinary therapy programme to assist their development in all these areas and lay the foundations for them to grow into independent adults who contribute actively to society.

For additional information or to donate visit: http://www.downssouthlondon.org

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