‘And the best part is: he can now also play games with his siblings and friends.’
‘It is not the disability that is the biggest problem for disabled children, it’s the social isolation,’ says Henk-Willem Laan. He is managing director of the Dutch Foundation for Disabled Children. They are committed to an inclusive society in which every child can play, take part in sports and exercise and learn together with others. The extreme corona measures have heavily impacted (severely) disabled children and their families. The support of professional caregivers has often disappeared, along with the structure and regular daily activities in their lives, and necessary material resources are no longer available at home. Children feel anxious and out of sorts. Parents are stressed and worried about the vulnerability of their child. ‘To quickly alleviate this acute need, we have set up an emergency fund,’ says Laan.
‘Gaming is important for kids stuck at home, but if you are unable to hold the controller you’ve got a problem’
‘We aimed to raise at least 150,000 euros, of which approximately 100,000 from our own resources. In the end, the emergency fund raised 265,000 euros,’ says Laan, full of pride. A number of funding bodies contributed, including Dioraphte, who made a substantial donation, along with private individuals and companies who all put their hands in their pockets.
‘In order to provide assistance quickly, we approached our partners, whom we’ve been working with for many years, to develop initiatives which would support our target group during this difficult time.’ Soon the applications came flooding in. Twenty applications in total have been accepted, which are helping more than 2000 disabled children and young people. For example, children with severe and multiple disabilities can now be helped with a special ‘playbox’ that allows them to play with their siblings.
‘Another special project is the adaptation of games for children with a muscular disease,’ says Laan. ‘Gaming is important for kids stuck at home, but if you can’t hold the controller, you’ve got a problem. There’s a foundation that adapts musical instruments for children with a disability that has done the same for games. It was magical to watch a boy play a game for the first time using his mouth. Such an emotional release! Yes, I can do something myself! Best of all: he is now able to play games with his siblings and friends.’