A group of fifteen determined children, aged from just two to nine years old, are embarking on an epic challenge this month to complete a 300-mile journey between them.
The children, all of whom have Down’s Syndrome, will be walking, running, scooting, cycling and swimming, to cover the equivalent distance from Land’s End to Peckham in south London, in a virtual challenge.
The Down’s South London KIDS WALK 300 challenge is hoping to raise money for Down’s 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.
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 Down’s Syndrome develop.
This physical challenge is particularly demanding as children with Down’s 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.
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).
Once the challenge begins on the 17th October, the group will be sharing their progress on Instagram via @downssouthlondon. Donations can be made via the team’s Virgin Money Giving page.
Chair of Down’s South London Gün Akyuz said:
“The charity’s trustees took the decision to act early before the pandemic took hold, switching its service online to protect the families involved and enable them to continue accessing their vital therapy. DSL’s therapists have been outstanding. They quickly adapted the therapy service to work over Zoom, and it has been amazingly successful, drawing nothing but praise from parents while other therapies provided in school or by the NHS had in many cases stopped completely.
“But this year our donations have fallen by more than 50%, and we’ve been hit like much of the charity sector. The pandemic has prevented us from organising our usual fundraisers, and our fantastic families have once again stepped up to safeguard their much-loved therapy. We are beyond proud of the 15 youngsters and their families for taking on this amazing challenge.”