Young fundraisers exceed all expectations

two children walking

Fifteen South London children with Down’s Syndrome have beaten all expectations in an epic fundraising challenge.

Their #DSLwalk300 Land’s End to Peckham fundraiser is now just £10,000 away from replacing a vital local charity’s funding shortfall caused by the pandemic.

Aged from two to nine, they began their virtual challenge to cover the 300-mile distance from Peckham – where the Down’s South London (DSL) charity has its headquarters – to Land’s End almost a month ago.

As they cross the finishing line today (16 November) they have covered 457 miles and raised nearly £40,000. Some of them were joined in Brixton by local MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

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MP Bell with Orla and Zephy

DSL services, offered free to families, are paid for by voluntary donations and through a range of fundraising initiatives by the charity’s trustees, families, friends and supporters.

Gün Akyuz, chair of DSL said: “Small charities like ours rely very much on the local events that we run through the year, so our fundraising has really suffered as Covid-19 restrictions have put so many of our usual fundraisers on hold.

“We are absolutely blown away by how well our children have done in this challenge, both in terms of the distance they have covered and the money they have raised.

“Their determination is inspiring and we are incredibly proud of all of them.

“In addition, as a result of the publicity surrounding the challenge, two new families have found Down’s South London and their children are now being supported by our amazing therapy team as well, which is just fantastic.”

two children
Zephy (left) and Orla

Angela Gough, a parent trustee who came up with the original idea said: “We weren’t sure they would be able to cover the whole distance in a month, but they’ve not only reached Peckham, they’ve gone beyond and done a victory lap of the M25 as well!

“Their efforts have inspired so many generous supporters to donate and we are now just £10,000 away from plugging the gap in our funding and securing the children’s therapy into the future, which is nothing short of amazing.”

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All the children taking part in the challenge are either current or former recipients of DSL’s therapy services. These provide a unique package of early intervention speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational/sensory therapy, delivered by a team of highly skilled therapists with specialist knowledge of how young children with Down’s Syndrome develop.

This physical challenge is particularly demanding as children with Down’s Syndrome typically have some level of hypotonia, or low muscle tone, which for many means i t has taken longer to learn to walk than it would for a typically developing child.

Donations can still be made via the team’s Virgin Money Giving page.

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