A charity for disabled children has created sensory boxes full of specialist aids and toys to stimulate children with a variety of complex health needs and made them available to borrow for free (22nd June 2012).

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has been loaning out sensory aids to families of disabled and terminally ill children for the past year, but is more than doubling availability due to demand. The new boxes contain equipment worth more than £500.The sensory boxes cover 3 categories: visual, learning and development, and tactile. 

Visual boxes feature a range of hi-tech equipment like fibre optic strands, interactive light domes, projectors, kaleidoscopes and hand-held light changers. Learning and development boxes comprise aids that encourage children to develop their speech and improve understanding and co-ordination, such as switch-activated movement toys and audio building blocks. Tactile boxes include a range of sensory toys. 

 Families can have the boxes on loan for up to 12 weeks, and all equipment is serviced and cleaned before being reissued. New batteries are provided for relevant items. 

 Newlife’s lead nurse, Karen Dobson, said: “The primary objective of our sensory loan boxes is to provide disabled children with toys and aids that will help them learn and develop skills through play. The boxes are delivered, free of charge, to families’ doors and collected with minimum fuss and each contains a wide selection of items for specific ages and abilities. 

 “We are keen to get families’ feedback on the effectiveness of the equipment, which comes from trusted suppliers, so we can work to improve and expand the service with the help of play and speech therapists. 

 “Play is important to all children, but for those with a disability the opportunity to access a variety of interesting and varied aids may not be a reality. Some of this equipment is around £200 for a single item, which puts it beyond the financial reach of many of the families we support. The Newlife sensory boxes scheme was launched to help alleviate this financial burden and to enable children to trial equipment. 

 “These additional boxes will allow us to support more families across the UK, whether it is to fill a short-term need or while an application is being made for grant provision from Newlife or elsewhere.” 

 To find out more and enquire about the sensory boxes, contact the Newlife Nurse Helpline on 0800 902 0095 or email nurses@newlifecharity.co.uk.