Everyone knows how vital play opportunities are, particularly for young children. However, many children with disabilities miss out on the wide range of benefits and enjoyment that come from playing games with their friends and family.

Because of physical or learning difficulties, they might find it impossible to play a sport, a board game - even on the computer.

As a result, they are often sidelined, and can only watch while their brothers, sisters and friends have all the fun. SpecialEffect is a charity dedicated to finding a way for everyone to join in.

As a result of one recent enquiry their technical team got to work making a special lightweight Nintendo Wii controller for a little girl who, due to a degenerative condition, was no longer strong enough to play the games she loved. As a result, this gave Sophie back the only opportunity she has for independent and collaborative play, just in time for her to join in the fun playing a computer version of tenpin bowling at her brother’s birthday party.

The charity’s goal is to give access to games and leisure technology to everyone with a disability, in whichever way they control the computer. It is widely acknowledged that there are a range of therapeutic social and cognitive benefits and yet, at present, very few mainstream games are available that can be played by people with disabilities.

A primary role, then, is to find those games which can be played, adapt those which can’t and share information through its pilot website, www.gamebase.info, that has already helped many children, parents and carers to find out about games and adaptations in a way that would have previously been impossible.

There is increasing evidence demonstrating the positive benefits of gaming for people with disabilities, particularly in relation to rehabilitation and its therapeutic benefits. For those undergoing chemotherapy, for example, it has been found that less medication is required because the young person is positively and purposely engaged.

SpecialEffect has had great local support but is looking for more companies, schools, individuals and organisations to become involved with the charity in a voluntary or fundraising capacity. For more information visit www.specialeffect.org.uk call the charity on 01608 810055 or email info@specialeffect.org.uk