Fraser’s mum Shona had a perfect pregnancy. But during his birth, Fraser’s heart stopped and he was starved of oxygen. Near death for the next 72 hours, he spent the next six days in intensive care. After four more long days, Shona and Fraser were finally allowed home, where her plans for motherhood changed forever. Fraser’s traumatic birth had left him with Cerebral Palsy, a neurological condition that affects movement, co-ordination and sometimes even communication.
Shona had to leave her job: looking after Fraser and his older brother Mark needed all of her time and energy. And although she tried taking Fraser along to mother and toddler groups, she didn’t feel comfortable when he couldn’t keep up with the other children.
Then she found Bright Sparks, a special place where disabled children can play and socialise with other youngsters: its busy building hosts clubs every night of the week as well as during school holidays.
Based in an old schoolhouse in Midlothian, Scotland - wrangled from the hands of the council ten years ago by founder Louise Gough - it’s a small space where magic happens.
Shona instantly found Bright Sparks to be a lifeline: it was there that she met other mums with disabled children and finally felt like there were people who understood the difficulties of her situation. Fraser loved Bright Sparks from his first visit, especially the holiday club, funded by BBC Children in Need. He now goes on trips away with his brother, Mark.
It’s something Shona never thought she’d see: Doctors always told her that her little boy wouldn’t walk or talk, but Fraser is thriving at Bright Sparks – both emotionally and physically.
After starting physiotherapy at 10 months, and with the help of Bright Sparks, he’s now walking and starting to talk. Shona puts this down to the positive reinforcement from all the staff, who have boosted his confidence enormously.
“It was such a relief to find Bright Sparks - you think you’re the only person in the world with a disabled child,” she says. “Fraser is so comfortable at Bright Sparks, I see his eyes light up when he hears its name. It gives me strength coming here, and I dread to think what life would be like without them".
"Holiday times are particularly hard, as all routine goes out the window. The Bright Sparks trips are a wonderful help and it’s great that Fraser and Mark can have quality time together as brothers.”
Bright Sparks is so popular that it has a long waiting list for all its groups. It has even started rotating children so everyone gets time at the centre. Thanks to your Heroic donations, many more children will get the support they need from the centre in years to come.
Supporting BBC Children in Need, no matter how big or small your contribution, makes a real difference to the lives of children and young people right on your doorstep.
Raising just £2.50 could help supply a special pack for premature babies with life-limiting conditions. And £250 means a child with Cerebral Palsy and his family can continue to have healthy meals by paying for a new cooker after their old one was condemned as unsafe.
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