A disability charity which provides support and play opportunities for children and young people is to receive up to £2m of Scottish Government funding following a four-year-old Fife girl’s campaign.
First Minister Humza Yousaf made the commitment during a visit to The Yard’s head office in Edinburgh where he met children and their families who benefit from the charity and saw the adventure play facilities offered by the centre.
The money will be subject to the outcome of the Scottish budget process and will look to provide extra funding to the charity over the next three years.
Eilish Cowan is one of only 200 children in the world with TUBA1A, a genetic condition that means she is visually impaired and struggles to walk.
But when she goes to The Yard, she is able to learn, play and make friends with other children.
Her family previously told STV News that the hub was in desperate need of vital funding to remain open.
Her father, Lawrence Cowan told STV News: “When Eilish gets to The Yard, she’s free.
“She’s defined by what she wants to do and not her disability. And places like that are not everywhere and they need to be.
“This is about more than funding, it’s about belonging. She deserves to be loved for who she is. Places like The Yard provide that in spades. It’s a gem.”
He has been campaigning for the Scottish Government to increase The Yard’s funding to help with their growing demand for services.
Yousaf said on Thursday he was “absolutely committed to improving outcomes for disabled children and their families across Scotland”.
He added: “Visiting The Yard has given me a chance to see their outstanding work first-hand, and hear more about the support being provided by the charity.
“I was extremely impressed with the flexible and creative ways in which The Yard are offering services and support to disabled young people and their families, many of whom I know are facing additional and significant challenges.
“I sincerely hope that this vital funding will enable The Yard to grow their services and offer support to more families of young disabled children across Scotland – and I look forward to continuing to engage with The Yard in all of their family support centres in Edinburgh, Fife and Dundee.”
Mr Cowan said: “This funding will be transformational. It means that more disabled children will have the chance to be celebrated for who they are, build their confidence and find a place to belong. We really appreciate the First Minister coming and spending so much time with us. Eilish was really excited to meet him. She said it made her feel proud.”
Celine Sinclair, chief executive of The Yard, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the First Minister has committed to working with us to grow our services in Scotland.
“This announcement is transformational for disabled children and their families, and we look forward to working with our partners to ensure that our children get the support they need to get the best start in life and thrive.”
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