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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucestershire children with heart conditions prove #ICan with new club

Children from across the county, living with heart conditions, are being given the chance to try their hand at everything from drumming to cooking to gardening, thanks to a new initiative from charity Heart Heroes.

Dubbed #ICan, the monthly club launching in September will be open to the children and their siblings, from four to 11-year-olds, and its ethos is to be diverse and inclusive, allowing them to participate to their own level of ability.

Kelly Cornish, founder of Heart Heroes, which supports children living with congenital heart conditions and their families, was inspired to start the #ICan club when she heard about a young girl who had to stop dance classes because her heart condition was causing breathlessness.

"We wanted to create something that was open to everybody, allowing them to work to the level of their ability," she said.

"The experience of this young girl at the dance class is mirrored by so many children with heart conditions. They try to keep up, but it ends up highlighting their disability and - because a heart condition isn't a disability you can see - parents are having to constantly explain. At #ICan, everyone is equal."

The club launches at Longford Village Hall on September 4, and the theme will be #ICan Cook. Subsequent get-togethers, during the first six months, will cover drumming, exercise, gardening, art, and yoga.

Funding for the club, which is free for the Heart Heroes children and their siblings, has come via generous grants from the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, which is a charitable trust, and also from printing firm Elmrep.

Heart Heroes, based in Gloucester, has regional hubs in Bristol, Worcester, Devon, Cornwall, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Wales.

Ms Cornish added: "We are launching in Gloucester but we plan to role this out to our other areas too, the first being Bristol, and we are looking for sponsorship to enable us to do so."

#ICan club members get a t-shirt, a passport book where they tick off the activities and write down their thoughts and feelings, and stickers to show they've completed an activity. The children will be split into age groups.

Kelly added: "We are especially looking forward to #ICan Drum, as it's being run by the Clem Burke Drumming Project, part of Hartpury College. They'll be putting heart monitors on the children so they can find out what happens when they drum and exercise, which - for children with heart conditions - will be fascinating."

For more information about the #ICan project, or to offer sponsorship, email email@heartheroes.co.uk. For more about the work of Heart Heroes click here.

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