With the 2018 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon around the corner, Laura Lovett from Antrim is one of the many people preparing to take part in aid of learning disability and official charity partner of the event, Mencap.
Laura’s son Matthew (aged 8 years), who has Down’s Syndrome, attended Mencap’s children’s centre in his early years at its former home on Belfast’s Annadale Avenue. The children’s centre, for 2-3 year olds, is now housed within Mencap’s state of the art centre in Newtownbreda. Matthew’s Mum Laura explains the impact that Mencap’s support had on Matthew:
'Mencap built an invaluable foundation for Matthew in his early years. When he first started at the children’s centre, he had just taken his first few steps and by the end of his time there, he was mobile and able to engage in social interactions.'
'Matthew’s development into a sociable, lively and loving young boy during that time, was down to the dedication and support that he received from the Mencap staff, who invested their time and expertise, getting to know him as an individual and appreciating his potential and capabilities.'
'The positive and caring spirit and ethos of the team were truly infectious. I felt happy, supported and reassured leaving Matthew in the care of those at Mencap and am thrilled to be raising funds to help them continue their world class work' Laura said.
Matthew will be cheering on his parents as they complete a leg of the marathon relay race in this year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. Laura has organised four relay teams, with backing from the members of the Belfast Ladies netball club who will all run in aid of Mencap.
'The marathon is a fun and active way to raise money for Mencap, so that other children like Matthew can avail of their expert support' Laura continues.
'It is also my goal to raise awareness of the support Mencap provides for those with learning disabilities in Northern Ireland.'
'I envisage a society where anyone with a learning disability is appreciated, treated with respect and given time to be known for the person they are – and, alongside Mencap, will do everything I can to help make that a reality.'
The Mencap centre is run in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, with therapists on site providing children with access to a variety of therapies in one place, meaning families do not have to travel to a number of different locations.
Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI added:
'We are extremely proud that Laura has shared Matthew’s positive experience of our children’s centre and that she is being so proactive in raising vital funds.'
'It is for families like Matthew’s that we operate - providing services that encourage children with a learning disability to fulfil their potential from an early stage, as well as educating and empowering parents.'
'Mencap is continually striving to improve and extend our services throughout Northern Ireland and all funds raised from the 2018 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will help us achieve this.'
'We hope as many people as possible will be inspired by Laura and Matthew, and get moving for Mencap in whatever way they can, on Monday 7th May.'
To sign up for the 2018 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, Team Relay, 8 Mile Walk or Fun Run events and #MoveIt4Mencap, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 90 691351.