Helping provide incredible care and support
“This is a place where you can talk about stuff, cry about it and get reassurance you are doing your best without fear of judgement.”
Five-year-old Eleena Perry, who has benefitted greatly from the services provided by SNAPS
Claire Perry is talking about the incredible care and support provided by SNAPS Special Needs and Parent Support.
Her daughter, Eleena, is one of countless children to benefit from the vital services of the Leeds-based charity. The courageous five-year-old has a rare genetic mutation that caused her brain to grow abnormally pre-birth, resulting in multiple medical issues that will affect her for the rest of her life.
Claire, Administrator for the Centre for Doctoral Training in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at Leeds, said: The staff have been an amazing support for Eleena and our family for about three years now, and we continue to access the services they provide to help her on her challenging journey.
Eleena is a beautiful, funny, cleaver little girl with a strong will for life. She has been through many medical appointments, examinations, scans, tests and bloods, with still more ongoing, and has taken all the prodding and poking from many different medical professionals during her short few years in her stride.
She never really complains about the uncomfortable boots, the eye patches, walking frames, glasses, physio, painful leg stretches and strange people in hospitals wanting her to do all sorts, not to mention all the injuries she suffers from everyday life.
It is hard as a parent to put your child through these things and not being able to trade places. There have been many dark times during the past few years, and it can be very isolating at times. All you can do is try to be strong and get through it.
But SNAPS is really supportive, both personally and for my family, as it can be very hard at times juggling medical appointments, results, arranging therapy etc. Sometimes, just talking to people in a similar situation really helps.
Ive spoken to many mums and dads at SNAPS with children living with all different conditions. Ive met some very brave and strong parents with children who are not as fortunate as Eleena, however Im sure we all agree SNAPS is a place where you can talk about stuff, cry about it and get reassurance you are doing your best without fear of judgement.
Pictured above are Dr Lucie Middlemiss with her son, Ralph, enjoying the Ferris wheel at last years Staff Festival, with Lucies husband, Derek, and Ralphs big brother, eight-year-old George, behind them
Rare and essential
Her views are echoed by another colleague at Leeds, Dr Lucie Middlemiss, Associate Professor at the Sustainability Research Institute (School of Earth and Environment). Her four-year-old son, Ralph, has used the charitys services on a number of occasions.
She said: We first joined SNAPS about a year ago when we heard about this fantastic little charity that helps to support families of disabled children through a weekly Saturday playgroup, offering physiotherapy at affordable prices.
My son has a disability that affects his walking, and he got so much out of his hydrotherapy sessions at SNAPS. The charity also provided the chance for our whole family to meet other disabled children and their carers. We so often go to places where my son is different, but at SNAPS everyone is a bit different, making it an accepting and enabling community.
The forum it provides for children to meet other kids who face disability challenges and for parents to meet other parents that understand the challenges is both rare and essential. Most importantly, SNAPS offers a high level of acceptance. There is nothing lovelier than being surrounded by people who understand what you experience as a parent and who leave judgement at the door. Theres a super friendly and accepting atmosphere at all events, and a community of children with disabilities and their parents, where people can care and look out for each other.
Staff Festival charity
It was Lucie who nominated SNAPS to be this years official Staff Festival charity. Your votes mean it will now benefit from fundraising on campus during the annual celebration on Friday 28 June.
Every penny collected will be a big boost for this really worthy cause, which provides leisure support services for children with special needs of all kinds, and their families. Its aim is to support the entire family, by enabling the child along with siblings, parents and other carers to participate in a shared experience of physical activity, fun and conversation in relaxed surroundings, supported by professional and dedicated staff.
Operating out of two sites Penny Field School in Meanwood and Broomfield School in Broom Place the charity offers physiotherapist-led hydrotherapy and rebound sessions (exercise therapy using trampolines), along with swimming, arts and crafts, soft toy play and a range of other fun activities, such as dance, sign and sing, boccia, storytelling and music therapy.
Eleena Perry with mum, Claire, and her big brother, Jenson
Claire added: Due to funding, theres nothing like this service available in Leeds on the NHS. SNAPS depends on donations, fundraising and sponsors to fund the cost of the service. So, I am asking you to donate some of your hard-earned money to an amazing cause that certainly saved my sanity at times, and is still helping provide therapy to my family and many others with unique children.
SNAPS Community Fundraising Manager, Jenny Sellers, said: Alongside the vital physiotherapy, SNAPS offers activities where the children, siblings, parents, carers and grandparents can all enjoy time together playing with toys, taking part in music therapy, playing Boccia or simply making friends and supporting one another.
We were formed by a group of parents to meet a gap in provision and we are still driven by our families needs; we have parent trustees and our new football club for children with additional needs, which started in April, was grown out of an idea that our parents came to us with.
Weve also recently launched the SNAPS Superhero Zoom, taking place on 15 September 2019 at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds. This will be an accessible event with a fun run feel, giving every child the opportunity to feel like a superhero for the day. It will be inclusive of all children, regardless of ability or disability, and their families.
So, thank you to Lucie for nominating us and thank you to the staff at Leeds for choosing SNAPS as the festival charity. We're really grateful for your support.
How you can help
SNAPS will be manning an information stall at this years Festival, while proceeds from the event including the ever-popular tombola stall will be donated to the charity.
Last years Staff Festival raised a record sum of £2,888.26 for Pets As Therapy, and it would be fantastic if we could top that figure for SNAPS.
Meanwhile, final preparations are being made ahead of this years exciting Staff Festival instalment. You, your family and friends are invited to join us on campus on Friday 28 June for an enjoyable afternoon of activities and entertainment. See the dedicated For Staff section for further information.