Claire McStravick from Dunmurry in Belfast, is one of several hundred people taking part in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon in aid of learning disability charity Mencap NI and her son Odhran on Sunday 5 May.

Mum Claire said: “Odhran just loves coming to the Mencap Children’s Centre, he cheers when we pull up in the car and has to say hello to everyone when he walks in. They have really helped Odhran so much, he has his own personality and is quite a character. Mencap are giving Odhran the best start in life, thank you.”

Odhran, aged two, attends the Mencap Children’s Centre in Belfast, a unique learning environment for children with a learning disability, autism and global developmental delay, which is run in partnership with the Belfast Health Trust. 

Odhran is a sociable, fun, mischievous two year old boy, who loves playing football and hide and seek with his three older sisters. Odhran was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome after he was born, when some complications were noticed with his breathing, heart and swallowing. 

Claire (30) and fiancé Laurence (37) are taking part in the Fun Run at the Belfast City Marathon to raise money in support of the Mencap Children’s Centre to support the difference the charity has made to their son.

Claire continued saying:  “Odhran has changed completely since he started attending the Mencap Children’s Centre. The Mencap and Belfast Trust staff have a set development plan, helping him with sensory issues and eating problems. His communication has improved with learning Makaton so that he can now communicate what he wants and doesn’t want.”

Last year over 1,300 participants took part in the Belfast City Marathon for team Mencap, raising over £80,000 to support Mencap’s life changing services. There is still time to join the team for this year’s event. The closing date for race entries is Friday 12 April.

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap Northern Ireland added: “Mencap would like to thank Claire and all of the participants who will run in support of our work this year. Funds raised will help support the Mencap Children’s Centre, as well as deliver vital services to support adults enabling them to find a job, live independently and give them a real choice on how they live their lives.”