Children and young people at Acorns Children’s Hospice in Selly Oak have been donated a package of specialist assistive technology worth thousands of pounds by national children’s charity Lifelites.
The package of equipment, along with training and technical support services provided by the charity costs around £50,000 over its four year lifespan, but was donated completely free of charge. The charity will replace the technology every four years.
The package includes a variety of assistive technology specially adapted for children with disabilities and can be used by the children to play games with their family and carers, be creative with art and music, and communicate with those around them.
One of the pieces of equipment donated was a Magic Carpet. This is a portable unit which projects an image on to the floor, a wheelchair tray or a bed, which children can actually play with. This technology gives them the chance to escape the confines of their condition and play one of the many games or animations, such as playing football or splashing in the sea.
The children will also receive an Eyegaze package. This allows those with limited mobility to control a computer using just their eyes. By using the Eyegaze, children who can only use their eyes and struggle to control anything for themselves, are suddenly able to play a game, paint a picture or even communicate with their family and carers, perhaps for the first time.
Other items donated include several brand new iPads in special drop proof easy grip cases and a touchscreen computer, as well as lots of games and other software specially designed to be accessible for children with disabilities.
Chris Reed, Head of Care at Acorns, said: “We are all extremely grateful to Lifelites for once again providing such a wealth of exciting assistive technology for the children and young people we care for. The benefits this sort of technology brings are plain to see, whether it’s in the faces of children interacting with a Magic Carpet, or a child with limited verbal ability suddenly being given the opportunity to communicate through an Eye Gaze. Thank you to Lifelites and the generosity of the donors for making this possible.”
Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive of Lifelites said: “We are thrilled to be able to provide equipment for the children at Acorns who have life-limiting, life-threatening and disabling conditions. The magical technology we have donated can be used to play, to be creative and communicate, and enrich the lives of these children and their families, for as long as it is possible. We couldn’t have provided this package if it wasn’t for the generosity of our donors, so for this we are incredibly grateful.”
The donors who made all of this possible include the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire, the Lillie Johnson Charitable Trust, Microsoft, Children with Cancer UK, GamesAid and Microsoft.
A representative from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire, John Hayward, visited the hospice to see the equipment in action, he said: “It makes such a difference being able to see the effect that our donation is having on the children. It’s not an opportunity that we get very often, it’s absolutely fantastic. Lifelites does such great work with Acorns, it’s a pleasure to support them.”
Lifelites has donated equipment to every children’s hospice in the British Isles over the last 17 years, and continues to provide new technology and ongoing support to ensure that children in hospices have unlimited possibilities.