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Cerebral Palsy is a disability caused by brain damage before or during birth and affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills. This means that alongside limited movement, breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating and talking can all be affected. CP is an umbrella term, which encompasses individuals with mild disabilities such as a slight limp, through to those relying on a ventilator for breathing.

World Cerebral Palsy Day is an organisation that celebrates and champions those with Cerebral Palsy alongside their families and communities that support them. They host worldwide awards including the Quality of Life Award. This year the overall winner of the ‘Quality of Life’ category was Gympanzees.

Gympanzees aim is to provide play, exercise and friendship, and by doing so improve the health and wellbeing, of children and young people with any ability and disability. They achieve this by providing pop up leisure facilities in Bristol, UK. These centres allow children and young people with any disability, including Cerebral Palsy to get active, have fun and meet others in a safe and understanding environment. Their first Pop Up was held in the summer of 2018. Since then, they have facilitated two further pop ups with almost 4000 visitors over the collective 58 days, some visitors making a 5 hour round trip for a one and a half hour session. Winning this award reflects the improvements in quality of life that they have seen in their visitors. There have been incredible health benefits including over 50 children using an Innowalk machine to experience a weight-bearing standing stance and ‘walking’ for the first time, one 6 year old taking their first independent steps and many children enjoying playing in public for the first time. There have also been multiple social benefits including a 3 year old who had his first ever laugh and volunteer staffing roles being taken up by adults with Cerebral Palsy. They are now looking to build the UK’s first, fully inclusive leisure facility in Bristol, with plans to build further centres around the UK.

Mike Davies
Author: Mike Davies