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Sam HendersonSam is three years old and entered Mencap’s nursery in September 2014, with no diagnosis for his learning disability.

His mum Laura described him as an insecure child, needing a lot of attention, who couldn’t walk and struggled to cope with simple things like children’s birthday parties, where he would cry in fear at the noise of other children.

For the first few weeks, Sam’s mum and dad eased him into the Mencap nursery and saw for themselves the care given to the children, which helped make them comfortable enough to leave him with the staff – a daunting prospect, as he had never been cared for by people other than his family before.

Previously, Sam had been diagnosed with a catch-all term – Global Developmental Delay.

By the time he left the left the Mencap Nursery, he had been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, which geneticists had previously ruled out.

Help from the expert staff at Mencap’s Nursery, based on their extensive experience, assisted in bringing a correct diagnosis and Sam’s family was put in contact with other people just like them.

Having a range of services under one roof – including occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language support – was vital in providing essential family assistance and helped cut down on the amount of trips necessary to visit doctors and specialists.

While at the Mencap Nursery, Sam learned to walk and he now uses Makaton sign language to communicate.

The Hendersons enjoyed a family holiday this year – previous holidays had been very stressful as Sam was not able to cope with big crowds or large noises in places like swimming pools.

Their recent holiday was much different and his parents insist it was the socialisation Sam received in the Mencap Nursery that made the difference

Sam’s family also benefitted from the social networks they discovered at the Mencap Nursery, with other parents of children with learning disabilities coming together to share experiences and ideas and also for respite.

The Hendersons’ now love to attend the Fun Days support group once a month, which was established by other Mencap Nursery parents, to share fun times and to offer the support of other families coping with similar circumstances.

Sam is now progressing to Parkview School where his development will continue to progress.

As his father Michael remarked after his year at the Mencap Nursery; “We don’t feel like we’re in the dark anymore”.

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Marathon Run

The Full 26.2 mile marathon challenge.

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Wheel Chair Marathon

The wheelchair race commences one minute before the main marathon event. The Marathon Organisers, working with DSNI and Disability Action have developed the route suitable for wheel chair users.

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Team Relay Challeng

This challenge is for teams of 2-5 people, running the same course as the Main Marathon Race.

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8 Mile Walk

For those who think the marathon is a bit of a stretch, but who want to put their fitness to the test, try out the marathon walk – you’ll never walk alone!

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Fun Run for Adults

There’s always been a great sense of fun and community at the Belfast City Marathon and the Fun Run is an awesome way to catch the vibe – silly costumes are not compulsory, but they really do help!

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Fun Run for Children

There’s always been a great sense of fun and community at the Belfast City Marathon and the Fun Run is an awesome way to catch the vibe – silly costumes are not compulsory, but they really do help!

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