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Four year-old from Ashford walks more than 30 miles for Down’s syndrome charity 21 Together

A four-year-old with Down’s syndrome has walked a marathon in a month, raising funds for a charity that helped him through lockdown.

Joe Wren from Ashford has already completed 33 miles during his month-long challenge, raising more that £2,000 for 21 Together - a Kent charity supporting people with Down's syndrome and their families.

Joe Wren is walking daily to reach his target of 26 miles in a month, which he's already surpassed
Joe Wren is walking daily to reach his target of 26 miles in a month, which he's already surpassed

Despite not learning to walk until he was two, the Victoria Road Primary School pupil is smashing his fundraiser.

Joe's mum Vikki Wren said: "We are so proud of this little boy; he doesn't ever give up on anything.

"He did have a Kaye Walker (posture control walker) when he was younger to support his walking but now he's like a Duracell Bunny.

"He wears an adventure belt to keep him safe and also allow him a little bit of independence. He's not too keen on following instructions and quite often has to be steered in the right direction but then he's off!

“They aren’t quick miles - have you seen how short his little legs are? - and he does often have to be lured with the promise of a bag of chocolate buttons from the shop on the way home - but we all know Joe will march on stoically!

“On behalf of the whole family I would like to thank everyone who has donated so far.

"Thanks to a lot of generous people, Joe has already smashed his fundraising target but anything anyone can give towards this worthwhile cause would be greatly appreciated by all families in the UK who have a child with Down’s syndrome."

'He's like a Duracell Bunny...'

21 Together’s Teach Me Too programme provides Joe’s family, and others in Kent, with an online library of educational videos and accompanying learning resources, designed around the specific learning profile of children with Down’s syndrome.

The Willesborough-based family say this was vital when they were unable to access the usual, face-to-face support during and immediately after the UK’s first national lockdown.

A national effort is now ongoing to raise enough money to provide the service to every person with Down's syndrome in the UK.

Mrs Wren said: “This year, 2020, was a massive year for Joe because he started school in September.

"21 Together was planning on holding some group activities for children approaching school age, and he should have been doing his transition time and starting to get used to school and socialising with other children. But just as we were about to begin the group activities Covid-19 hit and everything was cancelled.

Joe is currently non-verbal, and uses Makaton sign language to communicate
Joe is currently non-verbal, and uses Makaton sign language to communicate

"We know we’re lucky that our family is safe and well, and we haven’t suffered financially as some people have during the pandemic, but for us the absolute worst thing has been losing the face to face support.”

While the Wrens paid for the service, additional funding has since been given to the charity allowing it to provide the resources for free to families of children with Down’s syndrome in Kent.

For his daily walks, he's been joined by his mum, dad Kevin, twin brother Oliver, older sister Phoebe, 11, and older brother Thomas, 16.

Also coming along have been older sisters Megan, 23, and Emily, 22, who live away from home, as well as his Grandad Ernie, 75.

To donate to his fundraising effort, click here.

The KM Group is committed to helping the community through the KM Charity team. For more information and to find out what other good causes you can get involved in click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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