Focus: Campaign of the week - Whizz-Kidz mobilises its message

Indira Das-Gupta, indira.das-gupta@haynet.com

Whizz-Kidz is launching the first awareness campaign in its 15-year history as it strikes out in a new direction in a bid to exert greater influence over government.

The key message of the Keeping up with Childhood campaign is that there are more than 70,000 children in the UK who could benefit from the right kind of mobility equipment. The campaign was launched yesterday, with supporters placing fake wheel clamps on cars to make motorists think about what it means to be immobile.

Whizz-Kidz provides a range of equipment that is unavailable on the NHS because of financial constraints, but which can greatly improve a disabled child's quality of life.

Jill Cochrane, director of communications at Whizz-Kidz, said: "We have always been very fundraising-led, but this is the start of a journey that will see us become more of a campaigning organisation and, we hope, see us take much more of a lead on government policy."

The charity has already enlisted the help of Anne Begg, Labour MP for Aberdeen South, who announced an Early Day Motion in support of the campaign, which 61 MPs have so far signed. Whizz-Kidz is also targeting the national and regional press and the internet with strategically placed adverts.

It has received a huge boost in the form of free advertising space from many of its partners, such as www.totaljobs.com and Personnel Today.

Cochrane said: "We really want to convey the message that all children love to be active and that disabled children are no exception. We have deliberately used images that are meant to be inclusive, showing disabled and non-disabled children playing together."

Sean Kinmont, creative director at 23red, said: "We want to show that, with the right support, disabled children are able to enjoy an active life and play independently."

The charity's main media partner is Good Housekeeping magazine, reflecting research that women over the age of 30 are most likely to be sympathetic to Whizz-Kidz' aims.

The charity delayed the launch of the campaign by a week because of the London bombings. Professor Al Aynsley-Green, the children's commissioner for England, who is backing the campaign, said: "Having the right mobility equipment really does give disabled children the freedom and the chance to 'keep up with childhood'."

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