Rugby giant Malcolom O'Kelly helped launch the DANONE BIG TODDLE FOR BARNARDOS 2006. The Big Toddle is in its third year, and is the largest fundraising event for the under fives in Ireland.
Throughout May and June, toddlers will take part in sponsored half-mile walks across the length and breadth of the country to raise funds for young children who attend Barnardos centres.
Over the past two years nearly 20,000 toddlers from every county in Ireland have taken on the initiative and have raised over 400,000. Hundreds of crhches, Montessoris and playgroups organised local toddles throughout Ireland. Helen McVeigh, the Big Toddle Event Manager, explained: "Baby steps can make a big impact. Since the event kicked off three years ago, 20,000 pairs of little feet have toddled 10,000 miles in total for Barnardos. This year we hope that even more tots will join in the fun and help us to raise our target of 240,000 for our Best Start Programmes.
Brian O'Driscoll is encouraging parents and toddlers to get involved. The Ireland captain said: "Not only does it raise desperately needed funds for Barnardos' Best Start services for babies and toddlers who need support, it is also a fun way for young children to get active.
Ms. McVeigh added: "Getting from an early age is really important to establish a healthy routine. A report, published by the Chief Medical Officer in the UK Department of Health, argues that physical activity or active play' in childhood promotes a range of benefits, including healthy growth and development, maintenance of energy balance, psychological well-being and social interaction.
Most importantly, the DANONE BIG TODDLE FOR BARNARDOS offers a unique opportunity for children to help other kids their own age. While every parent wants the very best start in life for their child, many children and their families struggle with poverty, neglect and disadvantage. Barnardos' Best Start programmes work directly with the kids who need us most. Our work varies according to the individual child's needs, but includes pre-school groups; one-to-one counselling; parent and toddler groups and early childhood development programmes. The first years of a child's life are critical as they lay the foundation for their sense of self-worth and for their emotional and intellectual development." she said.
..."Malcolm in the Middle"...
Fiona Marshall, Marketing Director of DANONE Ireland, said: "In just three years the DANONE BIG TODDLE FOR BARNARDOS has developed into a major national event for the under fives. Thousands of children all over the country will once again don their tiny tot shoes and pass the finish line, raising much needed funds for Barnardos' critical services. By providing sponsorship, DANONE is delighted that every cent raised by these youngsters will go directly to the children who need it most.
Barnardos is calling on families, carers, crhches and playgroups to register their kids for the 2006 Toddle and take part a really fun day out. Participants will receive a free and fun 'toddle pack', which includes a finish line, hats, badges and advice for organisers - and more!
To find out more about the DANONE BIG TODDLE FOR BARNARDOS please log onto www.barnardos.ie or call: 1850 222 300 (Monday-Friday 9-5pm).
If you don't have any toddlers who can join the fun, why not give the "Toddle Text" a go? You can donate 2 simply be texting the word 'toddle' to 57080 to help fund Barnardos Best Start programmes.