Andrea Clarke, founder of Playskill in Garston, was awarded an MBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Playskill is a charity funded by Children in Need. It supports children with a range of disabilities, including developmental delay, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and genetic disorders.
Often the kids struggle with walking, speaking and socialising. Some have sensory difficulties and find it hard to grasp the world around them.
The key is to help them while their brains are still developing. Children join Playskill from as early as the age of one.
Andrea said: “Early intervention has been proven to be the most accessible way to change children’s abilities for life. More children need a chance of early intervention.”
Although Andrea was “stunned” at her MBE award, she’s most proud of what it says about Playskill’s progress since it started 12 years ago, adding: “It validates it.”
As far as Andrea knows, there’s no other place quite like Playskill in the UK. Through a mixture of intensive care therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, the team helps nip developmental problems in the bud.
The charity has helped kids achieve ambitious targets. On the day of the interview, a parent hears her child say her own name, for the first time. Others learn to walk and stand, and some get into mainstream schools.
While Playskill is constantly achieving and expanding, Andrea worries that there’s a severe lack of resources for handicapped children nationwide.
She said: “Big issue health services are not set up in the right ways, not in an integrated way. Everything is split up between health, social, and education. The [three governmental sectors] need to work collaboratively.”
For more information about Playskill, visit www.playskill.org or call 07572465504.