Christmas is a time for joy and for making dreams come true. At our Innovation Centre we believe that all children can achieve their dreams, however big or small. This Christmas we are celebrating twelve fabulous ways our Innovation Centre have made dreams come true this year:
#Giving Tuesday is on November 27th and this year we’re celebrating the amazing work our Innovation Centre do to help children achieve their dreams, however big or small. Children like Imogen, who we helped to achieve her dream of making it to the top of south Wales’ highest peak. You can help us make even more children’s dreams a reality. A gift from you, whether large or small, will make a positive difference to a young person’s life. You can either text WISH07 £5 to 70070 to donate £5, or use the form at the bottom of this page to donate online. Thank you.
Six year old Imogen was born with cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair to get about. She often can’t take part in activities that her friends take for granted. She wasn’t even allowed to take part in her school sports day. Like most children her age Imogen is lively and adventurous and her inability to get involved makes her feel frustrated, sad and lonely.
At Cerebra, we don’t believe there is any challenge that can’t be overcome. When our friends at Specsavers arranged a sponsored walk to the top of Pen-y-Fan, we thought ‘let’s see if we can take Imogen with us’.
Our Innovation centre adapted a special four-wheeled mountain bike and, with support from a team of volunteers, Imogen showed grit, determination and stamina to make it to the top. The smile on her face says it all.
Imogen’s mum, Catherine told us: “Imogen is thrilled and excited to have had this adventure. She’s never been able to do anything like this before because of her cerebral palsy. There have been so many times that she hasn’t been able to join in with physical activities which leaves her feeling left out. Being given the opportunity to do things a child her age should be able to do is a real boost to her confidence and self-esteem. she really is over the moon.
Imogen’s next dream? To become a Paralympian. Watch this space!
#GivingTuesday is on 27th November and you can follow our conversation on our social media – we will be using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #Cerebra. We would also love to hear if you will be taking part in any fundraising – be sure to tag us! Please help us to make even more children’s dreams come true this #GivingTuesday.
Text WISH07 £5 to 70070 to donate just £5.
Photos by Dimitris Leakis/ Athena Pictures
Our Innovation Centre are proud to make products that help disabled children to enjoy and experience life alongside their friends. Sometimes the most simple of things make the biggest difference.
Owen’s mum got in touch for some help. Owen loves to join his friends on the swings in the park but sometimes forgets to hold on. Our team at CIC simply converted a climbing harness to fit Owen and to clip onto the swing’s chains, keeping him safe as he soars.
A simple job but one that has made a huge difference to young Owen’s life.
Watch Owen in action
If we can help you with an everyday problem, however big or small, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us on [email protected].
The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) were recently asked for help with a small project, which really emphasises the usefulness of 3D printing and the computer age when trying to solve tricky little problems.
Going back only 6 or 7 years, this problem would have required meeting face to face, taking measurements, a day or two in the workshop and returning to fit the product; now with a photo and a few clicks of a mouse, CIC were able to produce a product in record time!
Bryher Hill, an occupational therapist in South Wales emailed CIC to ask for help. A cheeky young lad on her case load kept switching his wheelchair’s dual controls off so that he could override his helper.
Bryher explains: “I have always been aware of the CIC but haven’t needed to ask for their help until now! I attended a wheelchair assessment for a young child that we work with and we found that he would try to turn the wheelchair power off whilst his carer was driving the wheelchair as it had dual controls. I was concerned that if he were to do this in the middle of a road crossing or similar, it would be dangerous, so decided to ask CIC if they could design a cover for the control unit. I took a couple of photos and some quick measurements at the wheelchair handover and sent them over to CIC. They did the rest; for free! Ross’ skill and communication have been fantastic, and I am in awe of 3D printers and what they can do. Thanks for your help.”
Bryher cleverly took some photos of the control unit- plan, side and quarter views, and drew a quick sketch of the unit including the outline dimensions. This was enough for the CIC designers to set to work. Using their high tech computer aided design (CAD) software called Solidworks, they generated a model of a part which could cover the control unit sufficiently that our cheeky young client could not switch it back on, but which was quick and easy to pop on and remove without causing any damage.
As if this was not high tech enough, with a few clicks of a mouse, the model was sent to another software package to prepare it for 3D printing, which in turn was wirelessly sent to the Ultimaker 3D Printer. 3D printers are able to make plastic parts and components by melting a thin filament of plastic which is fed into the machine, and a print head deposits the plastic in place according the model file that is uploaded. This machine was very kindly donated to CIC by Mr and Mrs Coventry who run Claire’s Project. The printer has seen hundreds of hours of use and has made some amazing parts which have helped children across the UK live their lives with a little more comfort -and fun!
If you have an idea that you think the team at the Innovation Centre would be able to help with, please get in touch! You can email them on [email protected] or give them a call on 01792 242688.
Here’s the journey from start to finish:
The surfboard designed by our Innovation Centre especially so that disabled children can experience the thrill of the ocean, is making waves on the other side of the world in Japan.
The team at CIC designed the surfboard in partnership with Roger Cooper for children with limited mobility and brain conditions. It allows wheelchair-bound adrenaline junkies to get out of their chairs and onto the water. The tandem design includes a supportive seat for the child and plenty of space on the back for an experienced surfer to steer it in the right direction. They have been a great success providing endless hours of fun to thrill-seeking children who could not otherwise experience the benefits and thrill of catching waves.
Following its successful launch in 2016 the board has been popular across the UK, and now, the world. Cartan McLaughlin, an Irishman living in Japan, bought a Cerebra Surfboard for his own organisation called Sean’s Club. Sean, Cartan’s son, is 10 years old and has Down’s Syndrome and Sean’s Club is dedicated to helping children with Down Syndrome reach their full potential.
They have just held a launch event on Tatadohama Beach in Shimoda, Japan which was a huge success. Cartan McLaughlin said: “It was amazing! A brilliant day. Can I get another board? Many Thanks to the Cerebra Team and especially to Dr. Ross Head – Associate Professor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD)”.
Dr Ross Head explains that the surfboard is essentially a very large, purpose designed and built board, 12ft long, 30 inches wide and 6 inches deep. This gives it the flotation and stability required for the bucket seat to be positioned on top. The seat is attached via an adjustable laser-cut aluminium wedge which allows the seat to be positioned and angled correctly. This can be altered on the beach between users; the heavier the user, the further back the seat can slide to enable the board to glide smoothly at the correct angle.
To date there are Cerebra Surfboards in Aberavon and Caswell in south Wales, Cornwall, and the Isle of Wight with The Wave Project, one in Larne in Northern Ireland, and now one in Japan. Cartan plans to add another two boards this year, and five in 2019.
Dr Head commented: “We are so happy and so proud that our surfboard has brought happiness to another bunch of children and to be so far away on such a beautiful sandy beach in Japan adds a magical element to the story. The surfboards are a real work of art and very time consuming to build by the whole team, including Roger Cooper who shapes the board itself. Cartan has already asked if he can order another!”
The team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre are dedicated to designing and making bespoke products that enrich a child’s life, giving them new experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. If you have a challenge for them, get in touch at [email protected]
The team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre are dedicated to designing and making bespoke products that enrich a child’s life, giving them new experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
Created in partnership with Roger Cooper, our surfboard was designed for children with limited mobility and brain conditions. It allows wheelchair-bound adrenaline junkies to get out of their chairs and onto the water. The tandem design includes a supportive seat for the child and plenty of space on the back for an experienced surfer to steer it in the right direction. They have been a great success providing endless hours of fun to thrill-seeking children who could not otherwise experience the benefits and thrill of catching waves.
The latest to try one of the boards was 11 year old Alex who has quadriplegic athetoid cerebral palsy. Alex is from Eastleigh in Hampshire and was on holiday with her family in south Wales when she took part in a session organised by The Wave Project.
Following Alex’s session her mum Charlene told us: “Thank you so much. Alex absolutely loved it and even asked if we could move to South Wales so she could surf more often. The photos of the day are amazing and, to be honest, brought a little tear to her eye. To watch her take part in something we thought she would never be able to access is just incredible and we really cannot thank you all enough.”
The Wave Project brings people together through surfing. Their evidence-based surf therapy programme is proven to help young people feel less anxious and more positive. They also run beach school projects to help children feel more engaged in education. Working with partner organisations and some amazing volunteers they are changing lives together.
Holly Sayce, South Wales Coordinator at The Wave Project said: “The boards have been essential to us as a charity in making our service fully inclusive of all abilities and disabilities. Used alongside our beach wheelchairs we can offer young people with mobility issues the chance to participate in our surf therapy courses or one-off private sessions.
The board most recently given to our Cymru project by Cerebra was used during our summer sessions and even on a chilly day at Aberavon beach just last week. We are looking forward to our next surf therapy year starting in Spring 2019 to see even more young people use the board and take part in our sessions.
Kindly stored by one of our partner surf schools, we are able to take the board to both of our delivery locations at Aberavon and Porthcawl. We now have three amazing Cerebra boards across our UK projects allowing young people in many locations to access surf therapy and experience the many benefits.
We are super grateful to Cerebra for this amazing piece of kit and for their determination and enthusiasm around improving accessibility for children and young people.”
Families where a child has a brain condition face challenges every day. Just to learn, play, make friends, enjoy and experience the world can feel difficult, even impossible. At Cerebra we believe that every challenge can be overcome.
Our Innovation Centre is a partnership project with the University of Wales Trinity St David.
Six year old Imogen Ashwell-Lewis, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, reached the top of South Wales’ highest peak on Sunday 7 October in a specially-modified four-wheeled mountain bike.
She was joined by more than 40 people – including Specsavers staff from South and Mid Wales, charity workers and even army soldiers – some of whom were harnessed to her to help pull and push her along.
Imogen’s mum, Catherine, says: ‘Imogen is so thrilled and excited to have completed this climb. It’s only thanks to the team at Cerebra that she’s been able to have this adventure – she’s never been able to do anything like this before because of her cerebral palsy. There have been so many times that she hasn’t been able to join in with physical activities which leaves her feeling left out. Being able to do things like this is a real boost to her confidence and self-esteem. She really is over the moon.’
The Pen y Fan challenge was co-organised by Cerebra and staff at Specsavers stores in South and Mid Wales, as part of their year-long charity partnership. The opticians are raising funds for the Carmarthen-headquartered charity, which currently supports 4,500 families across Wales.
Neil Robinson, West Wales regional chair for Specsavers, says: ‘Imogen and her family are an inspiration to us all, as are the services and support Cerebra provides to them and many other families across Wales. Watching Imogen complete this challenge is something I won’t forget in a hurry. I’m proud of our staff for giving up their time to help Imogen and the charity achieve something wonderful.
‘I’m thrilled we have been able to help raise awareness of the charity’s work, and hope it will lead to more young children with brain conditions discovering ways to live a better life with their families.’
In addition to our support services and research work, we also have an Innovation Centre based within the University of Wales Trinity St David, where bespoke equipment is designed and created, free of charge, to make children’s lives easier.
Imogen’s bike was a specially-modified four wheeled downhill mountain bike, designed and made predominantly for use by disabled people. It was created by Calvin Williams of Project ENDURO – a collaboration between experts at Swansea University, Gower College Swansea and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Project ENDURO kindly loaned the bike to Imogen for the climb and designers at our Innovation Centre made modifications to give Imogen the support she needed. Project ENDURO was supported by AgorIP, based at Swansea University’s School of Management, who are part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Terry Osborn, acting Head of Corporates, Trusts and Legacies at Cerebra, says: ‘We’re delighted to have joined the Specsavers team for the Pen y Fan climb. To be able to take Imogen with is us was a privilege and really does demonstrate that we don’t believe there is any challenge that can’t be overcome.
‘The invaluable fundraising support from Specsavers means that our Innovation Centre will be able to help more children to overcome their challenges and discover the world around them.’
This video shows Imogen reaching the top of Pen y Fan:
Louise recently contacted our Innovation Centre after seeing a post on our Facebook page about the spinning pod chairs that the team had created. She knew one would be perfect for her son, 11 year old Curtis who has Charge Syndrome. She told us their story.
Curtis has Charge Syndrome which affects him in lots of different ways. It affects his development, meaning that he can’t walk and talk and he also has many sensory issues. He is partially sighted and has a cochlea implant because he is partially deaf. He is unable to tell where his body is in space and because of this, he has balance issues.
Longer term, Curtis has heart and lung problems and is on long term ventilation after needing a tracheotomy. He has night carers who have been a big help as Curtis isn’t a good sleeper, although he goes through patterns with his sleep and it has been helped with medication.
Curtis craves constant sensory input which means that he often gets frustrated and can lash out. His 4 year old brother Oscar is great with Curtis but it can be difficult for him, especially if Curtis is having a bad day.
For a while now, I have been looking for something to help Curtis to feel more grounded. We had a very old spinning chair that Curtis would spin on all day if he could because he doesn’t get dizzy but as he was getting older, the chair was getting less safe for him to use and I was worried it would break. Then I saw pictures of the spinning pod chair that the Cerebra Innovation Centre had created on Facebook and knew it would be perfect for Curtis!
I contacted the team and the day the chair arrived, Curtis was absolutely over the moon with it! Oscar even loved the box that it came in! The pod now makes up an important part of Curtis’ day. He can touch the floor and spin himself which gives him some independence and it also grounds him so the benefits have been huge.
The Innovation Centre have been great. A lot of things are designed for younger children and often there’s not a lot available for older children but they helped to fill in the gaps. There are so many challenges we face and it’s nice to know there’s someone there to help.
You can find out more information about the Cerebra Innovation Centre on our website. If you would like to find out how you can get a spinning pod like Curtis’s, contact the team at [email protected].
The CIC team have been working hard to create a high tech Boccia Ramp. Boccia is a ball sport, similar to bowls, for people with severe physical disabilities.
The guys were challenged by a young man in Bristol who wanted to have more independence in the game. They took up the challenge and have created a ramp that will enable almost anyone to play, no matter the severity of their condition! Almost any ability to move any part of your body will allow you to play Boccia with a lot more independence due to the unique electronics and controlling devices the team have made.
Boccia players in the BC3 category ordinarily require an assistant to place the ball on the ramp at the required height, aim the ramp left and right according their directions and then they can launch the ball into play using a head pointer. Well now, the assistant merely has to pop the ball on the ramp, and using the super high tech controlling devices, the player can raise and lower the ball, aim left and right and shoot the ball.
Whilst not being fully integrated with the rules and regulations just yet, the team are working with the amazing Paralympic Champion, World Champion, and joint most successful UK player ever, David Smith MBE, to perfect the design and technology to ensure that the Boccia ramp of the future is a smashing hit!
Here are the design team’s Daniel Cuthbertson and Gerallt Devonald with David Smith and Richard Bachelor (Welsh Champion) who kindly gave up some of their training session to help us.
Do you have a project for the team at CIC? If so, get in touch on [email protected] or 01792 783688.
Mum Alanah recently approached our Innovation Centre with a challenge that would help maintain her daughter’s independence while keeping the whole family safe on shopping trips.
We received Livia’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy just after she turned 2, and when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. Suddenly the logistics of looking after two children had become more involved. I knew Livia was struggling to walk, but I thought that after a bit of help she’d learn and would be running alongside the newborn’s pram or riding on a buggy board.
Initially after our second’s arrival things were pretty straight forward. Livia continued to ride in her stroller and the second was carried in a sling. When Livia did want to get out and walk she would hold onto the back of the stroller to steady herself and help me push that along. This resulted in lots of tripping and falls and was frustrating for all of us.
When our second was 4 months old Livia’s Kaye walker arrived. This was very exciting and gave us a step up in our independence and ease of getting around. Livia was willing to take short journeys with it, which was great when popping into shops that we could park outside or walking into the park from the car, or visiting a friends house. But anything further than a few minute walk was daunting for her and time restrictive for me. So the pushchair came back out, but how was I going to carry a newborn, push a stroller and bring her Kaye walker should she want to walk?
I felt terribly guilty if I didn’t bring her walker along. I felt I was stopping her from being independent when all of her friends and others her age were up and running freely. I purchased a tandem double pushchair and intended to carry the walker. We did one trip like this, ouch! My shoulder was so sore from where it had dug into me that it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be an option. So I went back to carrying the baby and slotted the walker onto the back seat of the pushchair.
Now the newborn was getting heavier and spending a lot of time ‘bouncing’ in the carrier. I’m not the biggest built person either, so carrying her everyday whilst pushing a toddler, all of the essentials you need and a Kaye walker was getting really tricky. There was also the challenge of when it rains or is really sunny. I don’t have a rain cover for the baby carrier and we all know how hard it is encourage a baby to keep a sun hat on, so I really needed her to go back into the pushchair. I am part of a cerebral palsy support group on Facebook, so I posted on there asking other mums what they do. A lady responded telling me to give Cerebra a call.
I spoke to Ross Head in the Innovation Centre and explained my predicament. He told me he’d made a back carrier for someone before. He took the walker size and said it’d be with me in a few weeks. About 5 weeks later he emailed to say the carrier was on its way and how to use it. I am absolutely delighted with it. Ross took a standard backpack and added some straps and metal hooks to it. The walker hooks over the top and is secured in place by some bungee cords. At the bottom he has added some velcro straps that secure the walker from bouncing around when I walk. Once strapped in place it’s hardly any weight at all. I now can keep both the children in the shade or out of the rain, they can snack and play with toys whilst I get us all to our destination with relative ease.
I am now racking my brains of how to challenge Ross further, what else isn’t on the market that could help make my family life easier…? I hope my story gives someone the knowledge to give Ross a call and talk through your dilemma. He’s a wizard! Thank you Ross and Cerebra.