Back in February I wrote about the charity DEMAND, who design and make all sorts of kit to help people overcome their challenges.
I learnt this week that their team of design engineers have been hard at work building yet another gigantic Cosy Coupe car to help a young girl with cerebral palsy. Eleanor is 8 and is in love with her Little Tikes car. She’ll push around her red and yellow coupe for hours after school, riding around the garden and stopping to refuel at her petrol pump!
Who doesn’t have fond memories of one of these little cars?! Most of us have found a new affinity with our bikes or been forced out of the driver’s seat by younger siblings by our 8th birthdays. But Eleanor isn’t able to pedal a bike or a trike, and now she can barely squeeze into her beloved car. One more growth spurt and she’ll outgrow it altogether.
Without a car and unable to pedal, she’s likely to miss out on the chance to get her muscles moving, developing the strength and coordination that will really set her up for the rest of her life.
And therapy should be fun. Sure, Eleanor could use a walking frame or treadmill of some sort – but would she lose interest? Who wouldn’t! Using a super-sized car will give Eleanor the physical therapy she needs and she’ll have great fun so she won’t even realize she’s doing the therapy! She can carry on exploring imaginative play and her friends, Mum, Dad and even Grandma can join in the fun.
Far from having the typical style we’re so used to with disability kit, this toy will make Eleanor the envy of the town…
Giving Eleanor the chance to continue developing her gross motor function will set her up for success with more intricate and high accuracy tasks as she gets older; painting and drawing, eating and drinking, using the iPad or computer, all activities that will enhance her life and maximise her independence.
On the Cosy Coupe production line I’m sure they pop out hundreds of these cars a day, boxed up and shipped across the globe for excited children to unwrap on their birthdays. Not the case when you’re building a one-of-a-kind custom! DEMAND’s design engineers have built and welded a bespoke steel frame, moulded each bright plastic body panel and are in the painstaking process of bringing everything together (complete with horn and petrol filler cap of course) ready to deliver to Eleanor’s home.
All of that takes time, skill, and materials and the 36 years of expertise DEMAND have to make sure the whole thing is safe, fit for purpose and will last Eleanor for many years to come.
The charity are looking for support to help fund Eleanor’s special therapy car – If you’re able to share and support them please do so on their Justgivingpage.
With any luck, Eleanor will have her ‘Big Tikes’ car in time for the British summer to really kick in. Hopefully her parents will be able to peel her away from the garden and her new car for long enough to eat dinner. We’ve all been there.
DEMAND help people with all aspects of life, from essential everyday needs like being able to eat, drink and use the bathroom through having access to education and work.
DEMAND often create equipment like this car which could be viewed simply as a ‘toy’. But being able to play and reap the physical and intellectual learning that play can bring, when toys that non-disabled children enjoy are inaccessible, is surely an important part of life, and the charity recognise that.
This play tableis designed to give Felix access to all his toys so he can play more independently and doesn’t always need Mum right there to place new toys where he can reach them. The middle part is removeable and Felix’s chair can go right in the middle, then he can move the table around like a lazy susan!
I’m sure Eleanor’s not the only one who could benefit from a ‘Big Tikes’ car – if your little one could too – give the team at DEMANDa call! Their designers are always on hand and happy to offer advice about all kinds of disability equipment and if you, like Eleanor, have a challenge that can’t be solved with off-the-shelf kit, they can visit to assess your needs and modify or design something completely new to help.
Please visit Eleanor’sJustgiving page and donate if you’re able – let’s make sure Eleanor can enjoy her car all summer and long into the future!