Isla, her brother Harry along with mum Laura and dad Gavin will be taking part in the learning disability charity’s Superhero Walk, proudly sponsored by City Sightseeing Belfast, on Saturday 19 October 2019 at Ormeau Park in Belfast.

When Isla was just 16 months old she was diagnosed with 2q22.1 microdeletion syndrome, which is a rare chromosome condition.

Mum, Laura, said: 

We were feeling quite lost as we didn’t know a lot about her syndrome and what it would mean for her in the future. 

At 2 years old Isla attended the Mencap Children’s Centre, which is run in partnership with the Belfast Health Trust.

Laura explains:

She loved it straight away and thrived having access to all of her therapies in one place. Isla also learned some basic Makaton signs to help communicate with us, as she was non-verbal.

Apart from all the help that Isla has gained, we have got a lot of support as a family too from different course run by Mencap’s family support programme. The staff have been so supportive and we’ve also met some lovely friends in the other parents”.

The Gilchrist family are excited to be taking part in the Mencap Superhero Walk, sponsored by City Sightseeing Belfast, for the second time.

Laura continues:

Isla took her first steps at Mencap with a push walker, something we were never sure she would be able to do by herself. She was cheered on by her classmates and keyworker at Mencap.

Last year we took part in the Mencap Superhero Walk as a family and raised money to help other families just like ours.

It was lovely to do something inclusive for all of us as it can be hard to find something that Harry (5) and Isla can enjoy together.

Both Harry and Isla loved the characters, especially Wonder Woman, who gave Isla her medal which was lovely as she was dressed as a mini Wonder Woman herself.

Mencap’s Superhero Walk will help raise funds to support the Mencap Children’s Centre in Belfast, which works with 52 children a year, aged two to three with a learning disability, autism and global developmental delay.

The Centre works in partnership with the Belfast Health Trust and has speech therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists all based at the Mencap Centre providing all the treatment in one place.

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said:

“The Mencap Superhero Walk is one of my favourite events of the year, it is so much fun for all the family. We are delighted to have the support of City Sightseeing Belfast Tours as our title sponsor. Bring your family, children and friends, in your favourite Superhero, Princess or even Super Villain outfit and enjoy the family friendly atmosphere.”

Paul Cunningham, Managing Director of City Sightseeing Belfast said:

“We are thrilled to be the title sponsors for the 2019 Mencap Superhero Walk. This is a great opportunity for us to support our charity partner and to help raise vital funds for people with learning disabilities. We look forward to filling our famous big red buses full of Superheroes young and old to help get them to the event and to add to the atmosphere.”