Callum's Promise and new adventures for disabled children

With a leg in plaster, a friend of mine was not able to play at hide and seek during break time when we were attending elementary school. Not that she was an enthusiast of running and shouting the name of our classmates, but, once the knee joint would had been working as usual, she could run at her pleasure.

What is the most likely scenario when the child cannot move his legs properly, not just for the six weeks of a plaster, but for his entire life? And what if he or she moves around on a wheelchair, need the support of a crutch, or a carer hand to walk with more confidence in a room?

Picture Credit: Include Me TOO
Disabled children risk often to be excluded from games and activities with their peers, because in need of special assistance or adapted sets. It can be easier – and less expensive – to leave them apart: they wouldn’t be able anyway to be like the others.

Games and fun are ways to start new friendships too among children. So, once excluded disabled kids from them, what else are we taking out? Friends, a supportive community, self-acceptance, confidence, well-being, and lots and lots of smiles.

From the side of the abled children, however, we are also depriving them of important elements: the beauty of a more varied group, friends, the chances to become more sensitive, and lots and lots of smiles.

Include Me TOO is a national charity born in 2002 with the aim of supporting disabled children, young people and their families, promoting their rights, social justice, and equality.

And Callum’s Promise is its new project. On the 13th October, Parmi Dheensa - Include Me TOO Founder and Executive – welcomed partners and supporters at the official launched hosted by Irwin Mitchell at its headquarters in London.
Parmi Dheesna and Sophie Walker
(You can see these pictures in the Photo Gallery or on Flickr)

It all started from the promise Parmi made to her son, Callum. Why not to extend the possibility to have fun and join adventures to all disabled children?

As mentioned, this resolution is not always as easy as writing about it in a blog post. The structures or tools may need to be readapted, used by qualified staff, and all of it needs resources.

Picture Credit: Callum's Promise
In 2011, The Children’s Society prepared a report which revealed the rather different poverty rates among families with and without disabled members. 30% of all the children in UK lives in poverty. When it comes to count the families with disabled kids, the poverty rates rise to 36% - up to 40% if the Disability Living Allowance is excluded from the household income.

In the analysis of the Households Below Average Income prepared by the Department of Work and Pensions in June 2015, we read that “children in families containing one or more disabled member were more than twice as likely to live in households in combined low income and material deprivation than those in families with no disabled member, 22 per cent compared to 10 per cent Before Housing Cost.” (p83)

The consequences of having a disability in the family are cuts on different expenditures – especially leisure activities -, and, thus, risks of lower levels of well-being (as also reported by The Children’s Society).

But what could have appeared an unlikely request years ago, nowadays it looks more than possible. Technologies, advanced techniques, and a stronger desire to have a space for disabled children are leading to more accessible solutions.
With Callum’s Promise, Include Me Too aims to support disabled children and their families supporting new experiences for them, while continuing to campaigning for changes to happen. The project is launched with the support of 4 partners.

Surfability (providing disability friendly surfing board – yes, surfing is possible also for wheelchair users!), Department of Ability (born from the vision of Dan White, creator and writer of the very first comic featuring superheroes with disabilities), Sals Shoes (collaborating to increase adapted footwear for disabled children), and Parallel London (that delivered the largest disability inclusive push/run in London this September).

Among the guests at the launch event, there were also Adam Pearson, Samantha Renke, Sophie Walker, AJ Joshi.

‘We are looking forward to working with our amazing partners – said Parmi Dheensa - and anyone who wishes to join us to support and increase opportunities for fun, friendships and adventures to disabled children and young people ensuring they too can leave a mark on this world’.