Charity lets kids stay on top of their game

Chloe Streeter, front left, and Ella Mitchell, front right, enjoying a computer game

Chloe Streeter, front left, and Ella Mitchell, front right, enjoying a computer game

First published in Jubilee Fund The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

COMPUTER games sometimes get a bad press, but disabled youngsters Chloe Streeter and Ella Mitchell have a whole new world of fun open to them, thanks to charity SpecialEffect.

Now the girls are encouraging people to dig into their pockets for the Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire, so more disabled children and adults can ‘get in the game’ too.

Both Chloe, four and Ella, six, have motor control problems which make it difficult for them to join in physical activities with their friends and family.

Even computer gaming was once out of bounds because of the difficulty of operating handheld controllers.

But in January Ella and Chloe visited the SpecialEffect Games Room in Charlbury and their lives were transformed.

SpecialEffect set up in 2008, was launched by David Cameron and has gone on to create the world’s first fully accessible games suite at Helen and Douglas House Hospice, aswell as running award-winning roadshows for disabled groups and special needs schools throughout Oxfordshire.

SpecialEffect’s research and development coordinator, Bill Donegan, is an expert in adapting video games. With the help of the charity’s specialist occupational therapist, Gillian Taylor, he set Chloe and Ella up with an Xbox Kinect, which does not require a handheld controller, but uses lasers to scan the children’s bodies directly into the game.

Ella’s Mum, Julie Mitchell, from Carterton, was overwhelmed.

“It is brilliant,” she said, “Playing games has given Ella the chance to be herself.

“The adapted system is now encouraging her to use all her limbs – like her physio."”

Both girls are now set up at home with equipment and games from SpecialEffects’ loan library and regularly get together for games sessions.

Chloe, a pupil at The Batt School in Witney, said: “Fruit Ninja is my favourite game because you have to chop all the fruit. I also like playing Barbie games on the lap-top.”

Chloe’s dad Nick Streeter, 38, from Witney, is a fundraiser at SpecialEffect.

He said: “We rely heavily on grants, like those which will be given by the Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire, and to receive money from the Fund would simply mean more fun, for more kids, so we have our fingers crossed.”

Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) chief executive, Jayne Woodley said: “SpecialEffect offers so much to young people with disabilities.”

l To donate to the Jubilee Fund or to volunteer to fundraise on its behalf, email jubilee@oxfordshire.org, call 01865 798666, or drop into OCF’s offices at 3 Woodins Way, Oxford. Or donate by phone by texting JBLE 12 to 70070. To apply for Jubilee Fund cash, visit oxfordshire.org For more information on SpecialEffect go to specialeffect.org.uk

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