Leckey Changes Children's Lives: Upsee



A visionary!

These are words that trip too often from the tongues of enthusiastic journalist, bloggers, anyone with an uplifting tale to tell, but rarely are they so thoroughly deserved.

Inventor Debby meets an enthusiastic user of the Upsee by Firefly

Last week I had the enormous privilege to meet and witness a handful of true visionaries whose inventions are quite simply creating a miraculous life-change for disabled children and their families.
They are thoroughly deserving of these accolades, the kind of people that need cloning and sprinklying around the world.

I sat with tears welling in my eyes as 3 beautiful children with Cerebral Palsy were lifted from the wheelchairs they use regularly and fitted into a new walking system, developed over many years by a driven and commited mother inventor, Debby Elnatan, and I watched, transfixed as they were quite literally 'walked along' attached to their parents.

The looks on their faces tells you all you need to know. 
Children use the Upsee for the first time. 

At once, these youngsters were able to look their brothers and sisters in the eye, explore the world around them, decide where to wander, choose flowers to pick, kick a football even. 

It was nothing short of a miracle product, and I saw the mixed emotions of those whose loved ones had missed out on such an opportunity in their youth, the faces of 'if onlys'.

The interaction between children and parents was easy, happy and carefree, so the social benefits rank as highly as the physical pluses. Of course being upright allows gravity to do what nature intended, benefiting internal organs and processes, and as the carers make exaggerated slow steps, their brains experience what it feels like to walk for the very first time. It's easy to take walking for granted, but think about the tiny complex collection of movements required to make just one step. Often children with neuromuscular disorders naturally scissor their legs when learning to walk, but the Upsee holds their limbs gently next to the adult's as the feet share a kind of double shoe.

The astonishingly simple yet effective creation is called the Upsee and it has been taken on by a company based in Belfast called Firefly by Leckey. It is made of funky breathable fabric and is affordable compared to most specialist walking equipment, retailing in the UK at £269 when it becomes available this week. 

So, I broke my blog ban on working with brands as this was a product I would definitely have bought for Natty for the years between her learning to crawl and walk. Like most children with Down's syndrome she had a developmental delay in her gross motor skills and we saw a physiotherapist for exercises to encourage and strengthen her walking muscles. The Upsee would have been a simple answer, allowing us to go for little walks together to build tone.

A few of the team of Leckey SEN bloggers
I flew to Belfast last week and met with around 20 other top SEN bloggers, parents and  foreward thinking charities, such as Cerebra, who were shipped in from the USA and Canada and from across Britain to help trial and spread the important message about the product because this is something that every OT, physio, teacher and special needs parent needs to be aware of.

We met with the supremely engaging James Leckey at his factory, who had a visionary moment after raising money for Mencap several years ago, and has developed and produced beautiful, practical and revolutionary equipment for seating, standing,  crawling and walking ever since. It is wonderful to know that disability products are created by someone who really cares.

James Leckey shows bloggers around his factory in Belfast

I returned home inspired, tired and with a renewed sense of shared purpose, particluarly after spending time with the incredible people behind the following blogs that work for change:

Just Bring the ChocolateSpecial Needs JungleLove that MaxJoe ReddingtonParenting Special Needs and the incredible Mama Lewis who helped design and campaign for supermarket trolleys that can accomodate growing children with disabilities. 

And together we will help more families benefit from this amazing system, and work with our readers to find ideas for developing new products to make the lives of children with disabilities a little bit easier and a little bit nicer.


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