In the lead up to Christmas, many children and young people have been busy writing wish lists, looking forward to decorating a tree and maybe even hissing and booing their favourite characters at the pantomime.
But for children like Daniel Ball, 14, from Daventry, who has a life-shortening condition, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, many of these things can be very difficult without a lot of support or simply not possible at all.
A Christmas wish for Daniel is to be given lots of opportunities to try new things and gain life experience appropriate to his age in spite of his disability. Helen & Douglas House, Daniel’s local children’s and young adults’ hospice which he visits for respite care, gives the young people who visit opportunities to participate in activities they would not normally be able to do, like work experience.
On a recent visit the care team planned a ‘Take Over Day’ for Daniel and four other young people where they could be a ‘boss’ for the day.
Daniel was involved in making decisions, holding mock interviews, directing a photo shoot and setting an Apprentice style fundraising task for two teams, to design a poster for the charity’s upcoming ‘Conquer Kilimanjaro’ challenge.
Choosing the winning fundraising team and ‘firing’ the losing team while wearing huge ‘You’re Fired’ mitts, was a highlight of his day.
Linda, Daniel’s mum, said: “For a mum whose child has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, I encourage Daniel to make the most of every opportunity given to him.
“I want him to experience as much of life as he can before he dies. So the Helen House ‘Take Over Day’ is brilliant. Where else could a child with a life limiting condition, be given a chance to be a boss for a day.
“It gives Daniel a real insight into working life and what it is to manage other people, which has led to some interesting conversations.”
Daniel said: “I had a great time and learnt lots, but why did it have to end so soon?”
Sonia Salmon, Helen House manager, said: “Take Over Day for our young people is about providing an opportunity to experience and participate in work related activities within a working environment.
“The young people had a packed programme for which they rose to the challenge admirably. Not only did they have the opportunity to gain an insight into how the charity operates but they had a fantastic time, gained bags of confidence and made new friends.
“All the youngsters were presented with certificates at the end of their day.
“As a charity we rely almost entirely on donations to support our families and provide important activities like ‘Take Over Day’ for the children and young people who visit. We cannot do this without your help.”
For more details on the centre go to www. helenanddouglas.org.uk.