This post has been written by Dan White at Variety, the Children’s Charity.
My daughter Emily is a twelve year old wheelchair user. Emily brightens our lives, like all disabled children do. But it has been a daily struggle wading through the waters of disability care and services available for her.
Feeling your way through the world of disability can be a daunting and overwhelming process, especially if you are a parent of a disabled child. From thinking about equipment you’ve never heard of, to how to access physio and find a support group, the whole mechanism of assistance can be hard to fathom. Events like Kidz to Adultz bring everything together in one place to make the waters a little easier to tread.
My first experience of a Kidz to Adultz exhibition was at Kidz to Adultz Middle as an exhibitor, rather than just a parent
I was lucky enough to be fronting the exhibition stand for Variety the Children’s Charity. Variety has been supplying essential equipment, experiences and of course sunshine coaches to disadvantaged and disabled children all over the UK, for seventy years now.
The event was a rich and diverse mix of families, children, adults, suppliers, voluntary sector organisations, campaigners, healthcare professionals and others who came together to discover and share information. Personally I found the day wonderfully cathartic to talk about disability from a non-medical perspective; a view echoed by most people I spoke to. Children and adults alike were not only able to explore the information on offer, but talk about frustrations and issues that resonated mutually. Too often there is an information overload from well-intentioned organisations and not enough empathy. Kidz had empathy in the bucket load.
From Variety’s stand in the voluntary village where my colleague and I were talking about Variety’s work, we discovered ourselves becoming a bit of a hit
Crowds of teachers, families and healthcare professionals gathered as we moved between listening and volunteering advice to giving information as to how Variety might be able to meet some of their needs. From sensory equipment to sleep systems, to furniture to car seats, hoists to specialist baths, we made weary eyes focus and shoulders rise.
In between the odd snatched moments of caffeine and cake nourishment, I wondered around the event both as a salesman of smiles and as a parent. Even I, with all my campaigning work and links through Variety was discovering new equipment and assistance that should be shouted about. This event is not just a showcase for brands, it’s an essential marketplace for the community that is nearly 14 million strong. And Variety were proud to be there, not just as a funder but as a charity.
Kidz to Adultz has racked up an impressive 22,476 visitors since its inception, that’s nearly 23,000 families and charities that have been given practical and emotional help, me among them. With an impressive five events nationwide each year now the future looks very inclusive and supportive indeed.
Learn more about Variety, the Children’s Charity
Variety provides grants for specialist equipment, including wheelchairs, to individual children and not-for-profit organisations working with under 19’s. For more information on how we might be able to help visit www.variety.org.uk or call us on 02074288100.