Tag Archives: charity

Ikea stocking fillers in aid of Save the Children & UNICEF

19 Dec

IKEA are back again with their annual Soft Toy Campaign! For every soft toy and children’s book sold between October 21st and December 23rd 2012 the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to UNICEF and Save the Children, to support worldwide education programs, ensuring more children around the world can go to school. This yearly campaign has so far raised a total of €47.4 million since 2003 and has helped improve the lives of more than eight million vulnerable children.

I’m writing today to share a couple of the items included in this years campaign, and what with it being under a week till christmas and the final week of the campaign, I urge you to get yourselves down to Ikea to take advantage of the brilliant, reasonably priced toys while raising much needed funds for UNICEF & Save the Children.

The two items we were sent came from the KLAPPAR CIRUS range of toys. This range is bold, bright, and reasonably priced, all the things I like in a soft toy.

We reviewed the KLAPPER CIRKUS Finger puppets that can be brought for just £4.99.

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This is a fabulous stocking filler, a traditional toy that reminds me of those you purchase at Christmas markets. The puppet stand is made from brightly coloured card so not the most durable but all the little finger puppets are beautifully stitched felt with lovely detailing and considering there are eight of them, a fiver seems little money to pay for this set. These puppets are bright and fun and the toddler absolutely adores them.

We were also sent KLAPPAR CIRUS – Soft Toy Rabbit which cost just £4 to buy.

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This super soft white bunny is ultra cuddly. His of a nice size and good quality. I love his floppy ears and long whiskers. What gives him that something extra is this bunnies sense of style. He looks dashing in his purple glittery jacket and top hat and reminds me somewhat of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

Again the toddler loves this toy and the white rabbit has now become a permeant fixture to the end of his bed.

For £4 the soft white rabbit makes a lovely Christmas gift for very little money.

Other toys in the ikea soft bear campaign include soft toys and books for as little as £1.

Here’s a few other ideas for those Christmas stockings.

VANDRING HARE – Soft Toy Rabbit £5

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VANDRING IGELKOTT – Squeaky toy hedgehog £2

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VANDRING – Book ‘The Hedgehog Leaves Home’ £5

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I love this statement made by Ikea! It really sums up what the campaigns about and while you should pop along and buy your child a soft toy from them this Christmas…

“At IKEA, we believe all children deserve the right to simply be children – free to play, learn and develop, that’s why we work hard to give millions of children a better start in life. By buying a Soft Toy from IKEA this Christmas, not only are you giving to your child, but also to millions of underprivileged children around the world.”

I was not paid to write this post but did receive two toy samples so that we could share our honest feedback on these products. All words are my own and have not been Influence in any way.

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Little Man Wins An iPad Mini On His School Reward System (Vivo)

15 Dec

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I’ve written a number of posts on the ups and downs little man has experienced when it comes to the introducing of a new behaviour and reward programme.

Mainstream school struggled to find something that worked for him as an individual. Smiley faces and star charts don’t mean a thing to little man. What his mainstream school failed to understand was a sticker or a promise isn’t enough for him. Little man requires real visual evidence of rewards, ones that encourage and therefore lead to results.

It was only once little man had started at his independent special school for children with autism and Aspergers did we find a system that worked for him.

However, this system isn’t just a way to improve behaviour, encourage participation in tasks and have children producing good work… Though it does do all three, It also helps children like Little man gain independence, building the skills needed for everyday life.

So, what is this system? Its title is Vivo Miles and its being used in both special and mainstream schools around the country.

Vivo Miles is a points earning system that in a funny kind of way, operates like a store Loyalty card, such as a reward card… Nectar or clubcard. Only children don’t earn points by shopping but instead doing a host of other stuff that their teaching team then rewards them for by handing out Vivo points.

The system works well with children like little man who are on the autism spectrum because its very visual. It connects to an online site where each school and child have their own personal profile. Teachers log on and reward points or hand out paper points that allows pupils to add the points to their account. Children can get a vivo card and pin. They can independently log on and access their personal profile from desktops and smartphones. Here they can spend their points online and even earn interest if saving points. The Vivo system isn’t just some little online gift store. Schools can choose reward items to be added to their catalogue from the huge Vivo selection. Little man can buy store gift cards, mobile top up, toys and other various merchandise.

The system is extremely innovative. Pupils can see all points rewarded. This includes the teacher who has rewarded them, the amount of points given and the reason behind them receiving the points. I love looking through the points history which kind of reminds me of an online banking statement. I’m able to read all the positive stuff his achieved and his able to have the independence to make online purchases (given his got enough points). He can even independently donate to a number of charities if desired.

Each vivo point is worth a penny so children can save for bigger items or just purchase smaller items frequently. All products are dispatched to the school and pupils receive a dispatch confirmation email and a delivery date just like you would if doing your online weekly shop. What’s more they ain’t charged postage.

Parents can also create an account that connects to their child’s and are even able to make a private pledge to their child that is linked to their progress at school, to increase motivation. This idea is an excellent way for schools and parents to work together to help their child reach their full potential. Here you can read more on the parental sides of Vivo

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I took this statement from the Vivo site that I think highlights the independence side of things really well…

“• Early personal finance lessons… Vivo is designed in such a way that it looks and feels to students a lot like their first bank account. With the currency being the’ Vivo’ and good old fashioned hard work being the way to earn ‘Vivos’ it presents a unique opportunity to teach some important personal finance lessons. Saving up for something over a longer term, earning interest, budgeting and managing an account are all covered by the Vivo system.
There is even an option to purchase a Vivo visa prepaid card for your child to take their first steps into the world of financial independence without the temptations of credit.”

I saw little man on his Vivo profile last week. I asked if he was buying himself something with his points and he repiled that he was actually purchasing some Christmas presents for myself and his dad. My heart skipped a beat and I felt myself welling up a little if honest. It was such a grown-up thing to do, and lets not forget a sweet one too.

To know he had been really trying to do well, earn points and buy gifts for others really impressed me! I’ve never send him do this kind of think independently, given he is useless at saving money when its in his hand etc the points system has really helped him to save and think of others. Sat in front of me was this little independent 12 year old who had come on leaps and bounds in the space of a year or so.

Well… Here’s the totally amazing part! Vivo were also running a raffle at the time. 5 vivo points equalled one raffle ticket. Little man told me the first prize was for an iPad mini with 20 runner up prizes of festive snowflake craft stamps. He had some points left after his little shop and he had fun buying a number of raffle tickets which amounting to around £1.50 or so. Then on Wednesday little man was home from school having been sent home earlier in the week as he was pretty unwell. It was this day we received a phone call which his dad took on his mobile. Given he was out a message was left that stated Little man had won the raffle. He called me and gave me the number that had been left on his voicemail. Just as I was about to call assuming it was just a stamp he had won, an email pinged in my inbox announcing he had won the iPad mini. At this point I hadn’t yet said anything as I was unclear of his prize and he would have driven me crazy asking questions but with the email at hand I passed him my iPhone and told him to read the email (yes, his come along way with his reading too).

Well, the expression on his face was priceless. We called them up and spoke to a lovely lady who confirmed his prize. Little man requested that he speak to her to say thank you which he did followed by the words “You are a very nice and attractive lady” as I apologised for the slightly weird comment she told me not to worry, my little guy had made her afternoon… Lol.

He wasn’t in school on the Thursday as he was still unwell but on Friday his iPad was presented to him in assembly and he came home iPad in hand feeling somewhat pleased with himself.

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If this isn’t a reward system that truly rewards a child than I don’t know what is! Its not just the win of an iPad his gained but also the Recognition for his efforts in school, improved confidence and some great independence skills.

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Well done Little man… Proud just doesn’t cut it.

School’s interested in using Vivo Miles or those who want to know more can check out the website here.

Little man has created a rather funny little video on an iPad App and uploaded it to his Youtube. Please give it a view and a like as it really would make his day.

This is NOT a sponsored post I choose to write the post to show others what benefits can come from using the right reward system, especially when your child has SEN.

The True Magic Of Christmas

13 Dec

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This enchanting, charming, beautiful house is located at 25A Hayes Lane Bromley Kent. The family who live here have been showcasing their ever growing collection of Christmas lights for some 25 years now?

Why?

Well, its all done in the name of charity. The festive home owners have helped a number of charities by putting on a spectacular Christmas light display in the hope of raising funds for those less fortunate, national and local charities and even children with special educational needs.

I first saw the house earlier in the week when I was asked to collect my son from school due to illness. Of course it was the middle of the afternoon so the lights were not yet switched on. With that I decided to take the children back tonight for a closer look and let’s just say we wasn’t disappointed!

The house is absolutely smothered in twinkling fairy lights.You will find an assortment of Santa’s displayed on the roof top, as well as a range of giant snow globes and a Santa loaded hot air balloon.

If that’s not exciting enough, the front garden has been totally transformed into something of a magical winter wonderland that leaves children bedazzled.

The first thing that catches your eye as you approach the house is a beautifully lite mini Ferris wheel with a host of festive faces upon it (Santa and a Snowman included)!

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Nutcrackers and toy Soldiers line the pond area while further along the grass the scene of a nativity really blows you away with festive cheer.

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Everywhere you turn, every inch and every corner, you will find something to amaze you. A beautiful wishing well and a life size moving Santa. Colourful wooden trains, talking elves and more.

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As you walk about exploring your surroundings, traditional Christmas tunes can be heard playing through mini speakers. They even have a special red post box just for posting letters to Santa.

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Here’s a little video I made to try and capture just how lovely the light display really was.

As I stood looking at the amazing display that has brought families from a far to see it, I realised just what a truly amazing thing the family living inside are doing for others. The surrounding communities get the privilege of visiting with their children while many charities are indeed lucky enough to benefit from such a place.

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I noted the television flashing in the window and realised that the family were probably sat indoors doing what you or would be doing… only just outside their window, their home was now something of a tourist attraction. But here they are for their 25th year… Seriously how amazing is that? That means these guys were putting smiles on the faces of children while raising essential funds for charity since I was 5 years old.

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I dunno about you guys but I think whoever is living behind door number 25 must be a pretty amazing family.

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As a mum to a child who benefits from such kindness (as you know little man has Aspergers and special educational needs) I just wanted to spread the festive cheer and if possible get those who are able to visit the house to do so.

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Children will not be disappointed. We drove 3 miles to see the lights and would of driven further if needed.

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Sadly, this is in fact the last year that the family will be transforming their home into a beautiful Christmas winter wonderland. So… Wouldn’t it be amazing to finish this lovely tradition on a high? I would love the family to make a lovely large sum of money in donations for this years chosen charities. I plan to go along again before the end of this jolly festive season, so I can give a little more! I haven’t got much but I know every penny counts.

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So, are you local to Hayes Lane, Bromley? Have you seen the magical wonderland? If yes, I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you haven’t yet visited and are within traveling distance why not pop along and help make this a beautiful end to a magical tradition.

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Celebs Help Raise Funds For New Autism School

29 Nov

Stars of the stage, screen and sporting world came together at the weekend at a Mad Men style ball to support the Hearts and Minds Challenge.

The ball, which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester on Sunday, November 25, was a resounding success, raising £40,000 for the charity, which supports children with autism.

The star studded event was hosted by three of the charity’s dedicated celebrity patrons; Paul Scholes, Mel Sykes and Keith Duffy. All the funds raised will be going towards a £1 million project to build a new school in Manchester for autistic children.

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The 1950s Mad Men theme ensured that all the guests were dressed up to the nines, harking back to a bygone era of style. One of the highlights of the night was a luxury auction, which included VIP passes to the prestigious Prix De Triumph in Paris, a one-off signed mosaic of Paul Scholes created by Salford artist Robert Lally and an exclusive.

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Founder of the Hearts and Minds Challenge, Ian McGrath, said “We’re thrilled that the ball has been such a hit and such a substantial sum was raised. The event was enjoyed by all and we are delighted we have managed to increase people’s awareness of autism and our plans for a new school in Manchester.”

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After sitting down to a three course meal, guests were invited to take a turn on the dance floor to the sounds of Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton, and crooner Cole Page.

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Boyzone and Coronation Street star Keith Duffy, said “I’m really grateful to my friends and family for coming along to support the cause, and I’m sure they had a great time. We all had a lot of fun, but what’s really important are the funds we’ve raised.”

The Hearts and Minds Challenge aims to raise the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by autism, by ensuring the provision of the highest standards in education, care and support. For more information, please
visit the hearts and minds website

Children Design T-Shirts To Try And Win Funds For The NAS

20 Nov

I love designing my own T-shirts and recently the children engaged themselves in such a task in the hope that they could win some money for the national autistic society (NAS) a charity close to all our hearts.

Alice designed a T-shirt aimed to create awareness for the siblings of those on the autism spectrum. Alice knows how difficult it can be to be a sister of a child on the autism spectrum. There is little or no support in our area for siblings of those with autism and for this reason they can be left feeling pretty alone.

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Her T-shirt features the autism puzzle pieces and a very important message.

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The toddler also had fun designing and then wearing his t-shirt.

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The T-Shirt Design Competition is being hosted by polo-shirts.co.uk. They are encouraging under 17 year olds to get creative and possibly win £250 for their chosen charity… How cool is that!

Here’s what the people at Polo-shirts.co.uk told me…

“In order to celebrate the creativity and talent of young people we are launching a very special t-shirt design competition. So, if you are a budding young designer get your pens, graphic design skills and imagination at the ready and start thinking about what you want to put on our t-shirts.

If you are under the age of 17 we would like you to create a design to go on the front one of our t-shirts. There is no purchase necessary, participants simply need to draw the design, scan it in and email it to helen@polo-shirts.co.uk. The design can be of anything you want but if there is a special meaning or inspiration behind it please do tell us.

The participant with the winning design will receive £250 to donate to the charity of their choice. The winner and four runners up will also get their designs professionally printed.”

We are really excited about the competition and possibly raising money for the NAS. So why don’t you get creative and have a go?

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Sadly it is a voting comp but as its for charity I did want to share. Hopefully the voting could be reconsidered and the winner chosen at random or for the entrants overall creativity?

Visit polo-shirt.co.uk for the full terms and conditions

Learning Disabilities, Autism and Internet Safety: A Parent’s Guide

19 Oct

A new guide to help parents of children with learning disabilities and autism is being launched today. The guide, a collaboration between charities Cerebra, Mencap and Ambitious about Autism, aims to help parents limit the risk of their child having negative experiences online and understand what action can be taken if they do. It also suggests resources that will help children get the most out of the internet at home and in the community.

Tracy Elliot, Head of Research at Cerebra explains: “as a national research charity, Cerebra strive to improve the lives of children with neurodevelopmental disorders and brain injury, through research, education and direct ongoing family support. There are real benefits to young people with learning disabilities and autism using the internet, but also potential dangers. We wanted to support parents in making informed choices about internet use and enable them to help their child get the most out of the internet. We know we share this aim with other charities like Mencap and Ambitious about Autism and believe that this joint approach helps all of us promote the message more widely. Some excellent resources already exist around this topic and we have referred parents to those resources, promoting wider awareness of these resources without duplicating effort”.

Use of the internet is on the increase with 77% of households in Great Britain having an internet connection in 2011. Increasingly, children and young people are learning and socialising using online resources. Many children with special educational needs are supported to use information technology in schools to allow them to access their education more successfully. Children use the internet to do their homework, to play games and to socialise with their peers. There are real benefits to young people with learning disabilities and autism using the internet for learning and social interaction and increasingly the internet caters for their needs with accessible design and simplified language.

However, alongside the many benefits it brings to children and young people there are also a number of risks. With access to technology comes the potential for cyber bullying, online grooming and risk of exposure to inappropriate content. This is a risk for all children and young people using the internet but the risk can be more profound for young people with a learning disability as a result of increased vulnerability, tendencies towards obsessive compulsive behaviour and social naivety. Studies have shown that pupils with Special Educational Needs are 16% more likely to be persistently cyber bullied over a prolonged period of time.

Mark Atkinson, Director of Policy, Ambitious about Autism said: “We know that children with special educational needs are more at risk of being bullied online, and for longer, than other children. Such a negative experience can be distressing and disorientating for a young person with autism and learning disabilities, especially as it may take longer for them to understand what’s happening and to tell their families. This type of bullying not only affects a child or young person but their family’s wellbeing too, as we know parents and carers often feel upset and powerless about not being able to protect their child online. Cyber bullying has exactly the same devastating implications as face to face bullying for vulnerable children and their families, and this guide provides helpful strategies to counter it”.

The comprehensive Parent’s Guide gives advice on how to make both home and mobile internet safe and how to prepare your child to use the internet. It identifies a range of potential risks and gives advice on how to prevent/deal with them as well as suggesting how to safely explore the many benefits using the internet can give.

Elizabeth Archer, National Children and Young People’s Programme Manager at Mencap and author of the guide, says: “we so often hear about young people with a learning disability having negative experiences online, but the internet can actually provide great opportunities for learning and socialising. The problem is that many parents don’t know where to start when it comes to protecting their child online and this is where we hope our guide will help. It provides information on how to make your home and mobile internet safe, guidance on how to support your child to use the internet safely, advice on various risk factors such as cyberbullying and criminal activity, and links to useful websites and organisations. We hope the guide will help parents to feel empowered to help their child make the most of the opportunities available to them online”.

The guide can be downloaded from www.cerebra.org.uk or to receive a copy please contact Catherine Hylton, Research Officer at Cerebra on catherineh@cerebra.org.uk.

Playing Bingo To Raise Money For The NAS

2 Oct

Playing bingo is not something I do often especially online. I used to go to our local bingo hall with my mum and as a result won some impressive amounts of money.

I was contacted by the guys at 888 Ladies (an online ladies only bingo site) They asked me if I wanted to play some bingo and win some money for my chosen charity.

How could I pass up the opportunity to raise some funds for the National Autistic Society (NAS). The guys at 888 Ladies loaded my account with £50 funds, (the account was easily set up and this didn’t take long at all). Then I had a month to win my charity some cash.

How it would work: I could play with the £50 funds and had the period of a month to do so. Anything I won could be reused to play more bingo. However every time I won the amount was logged and when the month was over all my prizes would be adding up and the full amount donated to the NAS.

Given I’m not really able to play during the day when I’m guessing its much busier I had no choice but to play quite late at night. I was either able to play the party bingo or the more traditional form of bingo.

I tried both forms of play but defiantly enjoyed the party bingo more. You can purchase anything from 1-90 cards and with each game you had to make a certain pattern to win. Obviously the more players the greater the prize. This also goes for the cost of each card.The greater the cost the greater the prize (dependent on the number of cards in play of course). I played everything from 5p to £1 per game play.

You may wonder how a person can possibly keep up when purchasing more than one card (90 especially). This is because the game is automatic so once you have purchased your cards the system knows when you are left with one number and if its called the game stops and your declared the game winner. The prize money is then automatically added to your account.

Of course there is the chance more than one person needs the same number and therefore you have a case of more than one winner. In such cases prize money is equally spilt between all winners.

For me online bingo isn’t really the same as the real life game. The excitement of it all is somewhat different. I love marking of my numbers with a dabber and even the danger of possibly missing your prize adds to the overall excitement. I quite missed this element of the game but still had fun all the same.

As I could only play at night I found there to be much less activity so I was therefore playing for smaller sums of money. However I did have quite a few wins and just knowing that each one was adding to my overall total for the NAS was really exciting.

The total I won was around £54 in total plus the initial £50 is donated so that’s £104. Yay… I’m glad the NAS will be able to make use of my donation.

Why I chose the NAS: A charity very close to my heart. My son has Aspergers and through some of our hardest battles from diagnosis to education they have been supportive. I’ve also volunteered for their TSS (tribunal support service) to help other parents get their children the special education they deserve. When it comes to advocating and advice the NAS do it best. They also run special schools and other services. Click here to visit their informative website

Britmums Live The Highlights

26 Jun

OK, it’s fair to say that I have banged on about it a fair bit “Britmums Live” and why I was pretty dam excited to be attending.

Enough already I hear you scream.

But it’s done now! I attended and got high on the natural buzz of everything blogging, So… I guess it would be just plain rude of me if I didn’t tell you how it went!

Two entire days of workshops, inspiring talks, healthy debates, mingling, tea and a generous servings of cake (not forgetting the odd glass of wine and an awards party) is a lot to get through! So… As not to overload you, I’ll break this down into more manageable portions as to provide you with the highlights.

So here are my top 20… Enjoy!

Friday…

1) Arriving at 4.30 pm midway through a tea break. A cup of coffee and a slice of moist cake was just what this girl needed after the commute (god I loath the underground, though don’t tell the transport obsessed son I just said that)!

2) My first workshop of the weekend “The bloggers studio: The path to getting published, with bloggers who have done it” Having already started writing a book (see last post) this for me was need to know information. All speakers provided us listeners with some fantastic advice, especially “Emily Carlise” (More than just a mum) which meant that I left smiling.

3) I found that this year there was a much larger network of parent bloggers who’s main focus was on that of SEN, Autism, Aspergers and Disability. This meant that I finally got to meet some of the bloggers behind some of my favourite blogs. Tania from Special Needs Jungle has been a lady I’ve wanted to meet for some time. Finally getting to have a good old chin wag over a couple of glasses of wine was brilliant (Yes, we talked about everything from SEN provision to our boys unique and wonderful little ways).

4) The BIB Awards ceremony, Oh yes, did I forget to mention that an awards bash was merging into the agenda? OK, forget I did not but who can blame me, especially when this very blog was a finalist in the category Inspire! Ok, sadly I didn’t claim the title, but at least I lost out to the lovely talented “Mummy Whisper” Seriously it is impossible to hold any kind of blogger resentment, Lisa is just to bloody nice!

5) The fact that Special Needs Jungle did it for us SEN parents by bagging the Change Award! My fellow SEN blogger, activist, Aspergers Mum and now drinking buddy Tania was a little shocked by winning but still stepped on the stage and shared an important message with the 500+ bloggers, “Please do something to help looked after children in care as many of these children are not lucky to have dedicated parents” Please read and share her latest post.

6) The waiters at the BIBs party… I say no more!

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7) The after party drinks with some lovely bloggers.

Saturday…

8) Sarah Brown (wife to ex PM Gordon Brown and founder/president of Piggy Bank Kids) opening key note “Finding your Voice”

9) The Discussions Den, “Blogging for the greater good” A real inspiring discussion hosted by the lovely Kate (Kate on thin ice). Other speakers included Camila Batmanghelidjh (Kids Company) the inspiring Polly Gowers, (Give as you live) Claire from One and one of my favourite bloggers fellow finalist in both the Mads and the BIBs “Kylie Hodges” writer of the blog “Not even a bag of sugar” All gave some fantastic tips and advice on blogging for the greater good. This was by far one of my favourite discussions at Britmums Live.

10) The “Getting the most out of Google +” workshop as this meant that I now understand a little better on how to actually use it.

11) My one 2 one style consultancy with TK Maxx personal stylist “Claire” her suggestions surrounded me with doubt. However she knew her stuff and I left wanting to buy myself some peg trousers.

12) More Cake!

13) How great it was to never find myself stood awkwardly in a corner like a loner! Seriously, there was more than enough lovely bloggers to chat and mingle with.

14) Having a manicure at the Crocs stand! My nails looked lovely (keep an eye out for my lightweight crocs wellie review in August).

15) The display of fireworks right outside my hotel window.

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16) The talk by Cherry Healey… What a legend! A brilliant talk on how to combine social media, press and tv to help promote your blog and of course having the time to do so.

17) Acting like a bit of a tit in the Orlando photo booth.

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18) Chilling out at the Butlins stand with Laura (Tired mummy of two) it was lovely to catch up.

19) Getting to chat with some lovely bloggers and brands during the breaks including Romanian mum and Mum of three boys.

20) Lastly the amazing bloggers keynote. I cried and laughed out loud. I can’t recommend the following post enough!
Doing it all for Aleyna: Survivor
Down Side up: What to say when a baby is born with Down Syndrome
Dorky Mum: Twitter is like
Ministry of Mum: Seven days of special love

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Lastly I would like to thank the people at Orchard Toys for sponsoring my attendance. Of you haven’t checked them out then please do.

Help Susanna Walk Appeal

14 Jun

Some of you may remember the review myself and the children did a while back on the fabulous restaurant ‘Frankie & Bennys’

We loved it, rated it highly and have been back a number of times since.

Then yesterday I received an email about a very special appeal called “Help Susanna Walk” which Frankie and Bennys are supporting.

The appeal really touched my heart and I just had to make my lovely readers aware of it and see if any of you could possibly help this beautiful little girl who wants nothing more than to be able to walk independently.

A waiter who works at the Frankie & Benny’s restaurant in Widnes has a beautiful five-year-old daughter called Susanna who suffers from Cerebral Palsy.

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The waiter and his wife are desperately trying to raise money to send Susanna to Missouri in the US for a life changing operation that will enable her to walk unaided. Missouri is the only place she can have surgery urgently – in the UK there is a 2 year waiting list which would mean Susanna would miss her window of opportunity to have it done as she will then be too old to qualify ( I know it sucks).

The operation has a 100% success rate. The family have so far raised £15K but it’s been a struggle and there is a long way to go as they need £60,000 in total.

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Frankie & Bennys is determined to raise the money by the end of July 2012 and have promised that this beautiful little girl will walk properly like all of her friends. Frankie & Benny’s is embarking on a nationwide fundraising weekend on Saturday 30th June/Sunday 1st July in every single one of their restaurants where they will donate £3.95 from every child’s meal purchased as well as many other specific fundraising activities for each individual venue.

How you can help

Frankie and Benny’s is a fabulous restaurant and you can feel that you’ve contributed just by enjoying a meal with the children on the specified dates as £3.95 from each of kids meal purchased on this date will go directly to Susanna’s appeal.

If you can’t visit you’re nearest restaurant on either of the two dates and you would like to help Susanna walk then you still can. Just visit the “Help Susanna Walk Just Giving Page” which has been set up as a place people can donate. You can give as much or as little as you can.

What the money raised would do

The money raised will pay for Susanna and her family to travel to and from the States for the operation itself. It will also provide accommodation for the family for a month following Susanna’s operation and further intensive physiotherapy. Money raised will pay for further treatment and aftercare on her return to the UK and hopefully enough will be raise to also provide Susanna with some equipment to aid her speedy recovery.

Susanna only has a short amount of time left whereby she qualifies for this operation, hence the need for immediate action. By raising this money now, Susanna will hopefully have the operation in September and be recovering well by Christmas this year. Just think how amazing it will be for us all to think we have played a part in ensuring it happens.

For more information about Susanna and her family, you can visit the links below:

The Help Susanna Walk Website

The St Helens Star Website

The St Helens Star News Page

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I haven’t been paid to write this, I have done so to try and help raise awareness for the appeal and to help get little Susanna walking.

Help a child with Autism communicate with the world they live in

3 Jun

So, I was on twitter recently (nothing new there I know) when I came across a very interesting tweet from one of my new followers.

The tweet in question contained a link to a very interesting website and article focused around a campaign that is aiming to help children with autism by providing them with a way to communicate with the world they live in! Here’s how.

With your help a child with autism can be given the tools needed to better communicate their needs, making the world a much easier place for them to live in.

The charity making this happen is “Hearts & Minds Challenge

They don’t need you to give funds, they don’t want your money, all they need is your old mobile phones, even those that are no longer working!

Here’s what the charity had to say!

Once upon a time, a mobile phone was a status symbol, a way to tell the world that you were so important that people had to be able to reach you all the time. Nowadays a mobile is a necessity, but we still like to have the latest model with features that can improve our daily life.

Now; when you want to trade up your old phone, you could be helping someone with Autism to communicate their basic needs and for the first time, truly express what they want. And the phone doesn’t even have to be working to help….

Autism is a developmental disability which typically affects social interaction, imagination and the ability to communicate. Half of all people diagnosed will have severely delayed speech and as a result, can become frustrated, leading to behavioral challenges and social exclusion.

In the past, these individuals could be taught to use picture exchange communication or “pecs” a system of handing over a picture to request an item. Thus replacing that negative behaviour with a vocabulary of different pictures, all of which have a huge value to the individual. They are prompted to try to say each word and can slowly learn to speak independently with the picture system as support.

However, at least a 1/4 of all people diagnosed with Autism will have to use an alternative communication system for life, which can become very unwieldy as their vocabulary grows.
They must also rely on carers and therapists to update and maintain the system, so they never have independent control of what they want to say.

There are electronic picture devices, but the vocabulary is static, the devices bulky and expensive and the individual cannot express exactly what they want.

However, thanks to the development of a simple App, which recreates the picture system in a digital format, so called ‘non-verbal’ people can communicate exactly what they want on an Apple iPod or iPad. The Grace App, named after the little girl who inspired it is a basic picture vocabulary in a digital format which the user selects then shares to communicate what they want. Most importantly, they can actually add to their pictures themselves using the device camera, or google and save an image if they cannot find and photograph what they need.

Lisa, who created the Grace App says:
“Just because someone is not yet talking, it doesn’t mean they have nothing to say”

Lisa said the App has allowed Grace to express herself clearly and her frustration and tantrums, which could last for hours are now vastly reduced.
“Grace is also interacting with us a lot more, and I’m delighted to hear her using her own voice, as her speech continues to improve”

There are a lot of families that could benefit from trying out Grace or one of the many Apps developed to support the needs of people with autism – but they need the device to use it. This is a big commitment for a family who may have limited means, and a lot of demands on their income due to the pressures of raising a child with Autism.

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Hearts and Minds are a charity with a mission to raise the quality of life of individuals with autism have come up with a scheme to turn old mobiles into new technology like the Apple iPad, while raising funds towards opening an Education Centre For Autism in Greater Manchester.

To help: Go through your drawers and cupboards and clear out all those old mobiles that are taking up space, contact the school and donate those devices in the envelopes provided. Not only will you be giving a child with autism the chance to communicate, but you will go into a draw to get your mortgage paid for a year – who wouldn’t like that?

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Once I read the above I just had to write this post and share this great campaign with my readers.

I also found a great video on the Hearts and Minds website that really does share a strong message with the world on what a difference we can make by donating our old mobile phones. The video shows a selected number of children with autism using their iPad at home or in school. Attached is a message from the families of these children who state what a remarkable difference the iPad has made to their child’s life.

Warning… The video is a real tear jerker! I sobbed all over my iPhone!

I was actually about to write a sponsored post for a company that specialises in recycling mobile phones, saving the environment and making us a bit of extra cash in the process. Then I read about ‘Hearts and Minds’ who are not only saving the planet but helping a child with autism to communicate. Of course it’s Ok to recycle your mobile for cash, especially if you have little… We all need some extra pennies sometimes. But remember this charity are happy to take any mobile phone, regardless of the state it’s in… Broken, old, “a brick” it really doesn’t matter!

Thankfully my son is verbal and actually speaks very well! However he does have an array of communication difficulties and even for him such technology is a godsend. Little man attends a special school and as part of an OT programme he is now learning to touch type, his fine motor skills are very poor and his handwriting hardly legible. An iPad is on the Birthday list and it’s something I’d purchase with the knowledge of knowing that for little man it’s so much more than a fancy handheld tablet.

I hope that others will read this and next time they open a draw to discover an old dusty mobile they remember this post and therefore remember that for a child with autism that dusty mobile is a door that opens into a world of communication!

Remember families and schools wanting to register for the programme can do so over on the hearts and minds website

For more information on the programme visit Grace App or Hearts and Minds to see if you can help give a child with autism a way to communicate.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or guest post. I have not been asked to write this and have not received anything for sharing this information. I have done so as a way to help a charity on their mission to help others.

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