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Children in Need helped William, aged three, take his first steps

Article By: Angeline Albert, News Editor

Three year-old William was born with a rare genetic condition, so it took him longer to walk and do all the other things a toddler would do, but money from Children in Need has helped give the little boy a better chance in life.

Children In Need's mascot Pudsey bear with television presenter Tess Daly   Credit: BBC

William has been helped by Playskill, a charity which runs parent and child groups for free for pre-school children with special physical needs.

Thanks to the £30,000 each year given to the charity by Children in Need, its groups are run by a team of three paediatric physiotherapists, two occupational therapists and four speech and language therapists.

By going to Playskill near his home in Hertfordshire every Friday, William received intensive support to learn to walk while having a lot of fun.

“William was unable to even sit when he first came to us” says Andrea Clarke, a paediatric physiotherapist who founded the charity 10 years ago.

“But gradually he learned to stand.”

Clutching a broom to begin with, he stood up. He was scared of letting go but gradually, his balance got better and better until he was able to take some steps.

“And after a year and a half of intensive work with me he finally learned to walk” says Ms Clarke. William saw specialists in music and development who helped him learn how to communicate and move.

He is unable to talk but learned Makaton, a form of signs and symbols which enabled him to express his wishes.

Staff used small toys or laminated pictures to show William what activity will be happening next.

A small flannel meant it was time to wash his hands and pictures of fruit allowed him to choose what he wanted at snack time.

During messy play, William would feel sticky foods, spikey objects and learn how to pick up tiny raisins using his thumb and first finger.

William is now five-years-old and goes to school but the work of Playskill continues.

Playskill is already helping 32 children a term and more money from Children in Need is on the way. From January 2017, an extra £25,000 will go to Playskill to help it support an extra eight children per term.

Andrea Clarke says: “I can’t tell you how much Children in Need has helped us.

“When I founded Playskill I saw there was a massive need for children with physical disabilities to get intensive support.

“We have targets for children but they are having fun. At a time when many are in the early stages of coming to terms with their child’s condition, parents feel less threatened at the play groups because its play friendly.

“We’ve all got our Pudsey bear headbands on today."

Tonight's the night

Tonight (18 November) on BBC One at 7.30pm, more than 1,500 children across 10 UK locations will come together to sing live on television during the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show.

Children in Need has raised awareness of the plight of disadvantaged children and young people across the UK and the money raised has changed many lives. Last years’s Children in Need Appeal Show raised more than £37m last year.

To donate to Children in Need visit the BBC Children in Need website:


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