Belfast Telegraph

Superhero Isla steps out to help raise cash for Mencap

Getting ready for the Mencap NI Superhero Walk are (from left) Jim Maguire, business development manager from sponsors Belfast City Sightseeing, Harry Gilchrist (5), Grainne McKeating, Belfast City Sightseeing office manager, Isla Gilchrist (4) and mum Laura Gilchrist from Downpatrick
Getting ready for the Mencap NI Superhero Walk are (from left) Jim Maguire, business development manager from sponsors Belfast City Sightseeing, Harry Gilchrist (5), Grainne McKeating, Belfast City Sightseeing office manager, Isla Gilchrist (4) and mum Laura Gilchrist from Downpatrick
Isla points the way
Claire Williamson

By Claire Williamson

Meet little hero Isla Gilchrist.

She will be walking for Mencap NI along with her family - something they never thought would happen.

Isla (4), her brother Harry (5) along with mum Laura and dad Gavin will be taking part in the learning disability charity's Superhero Walk on Saturday, October 19 at Ormeau Park in Belfast.

When Isla was just 16 months old she was diagnosed with 2q22.1 microdeletion syndrome, a rare chromosome condition.

Mum Laura said: "We were feeling quite lost as we didn't know a lot about her syndrome and what it would mean for her in the future."

At two years old Isla attended the Mencap Children's Centre, which is run in partnership with the Belfast Health Trust.

"She loved it straight away and thrived having access to all of her therapies in one place," said Laura.

"Isla also learned some basic Makaton signs to help communicate with us, as she was non-verbal. Apart from all the help that Isla has gained, we have got a lot of support as a family too from different courses run by Mencap's family support programme.

"The staff have been so supportive and we've also met some lovely friends in the other parents."

This will be the second time the Gilchrist family have taken part in the Mencap Superhero Walk. It's extra special as it's something that Isla and her brother Harry can enjoy together.

Laura said: "Isla took her first steps at Mencap with a push walker, something we were never sure she would be able to do by herself. She was cheered on by her classmates and her keyworker at Mencap.

"Last year we took part in the Mencap Superhero Walk as a family and raised money to help other families just like ours."

To find out more about the walk visit northernireland.mencap.org.uk/event/mencap-superhero-walk

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