Wednesday, 12 December 2012

How to protect your iPad

Like 85 other families you've got your iPad through the Hearts and Minds phone recycling scheme, and your child loves it!  But what happens if it gets dropped or scratched or thrown?  The best way to ensure that it doesn't get damaged is to invest in a protective cover, which should greatly extend the life of your new iPad.

Here are some ideas..

1. The Otterbox Defender as tested by Grace (of Grace App, a communications app for children with autism)  on Amazon.

2.  The Lifedge Waterproof case from £99 from Lifedge.

3. This blog post reviews several great covers for younger children

4. Overboard Waterproof case from £20.98

5. The GoNow case: "Make your iPad more durable, more portable, and twice as loud!"Coast £65 from Inclusive Technology

6. The Trident Kraken Case: An alternative to the Otterbox Defender costing £40.95 from Amazon

7. The Tabtoob is just £19.99 and is recommended by a Hearts and Minds Mum.  

 "Our iPad has been dropped and bounced more times than a ball!! Awesome case even comes with a screen protector to take it out and about."


Finally here are three tips that you REALLY need to know to help you and your child get the most value out of your iPad:

Does your child needs an iPad? Sign up for the Hearts and Minds mobile phone recycling campaign today:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

Thursday, 6 December 2012

In the News - November 2012

Wishing this family the best of luck with their mobile phone collection!

October was good for Hearts & Minds in the news.  But November was even better, with coverage of the mobile phone recycling scheme and of course the fabulous Hearts & Minds Ball...

Here's a selection of articles by families asking for help to grow their mobile phone collections:

Coverage of the Hearts and Minds Mad Men Ball:

And just to remind you, here is another picture of the lovely Melanie Sykes, patron of Hearts and Minds, at the Mad Men Ball as pictured in the Daily Express ..

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hearts and Minds go on the buses

For the next twelve months Hearts and Minds will be on the buses: two Manchester buses to be precise, which feature Jacob and the iPad he got through the Hearts & Minds mobile phone recycling scheme...

Founder of the Hearts and Minds Challenge, Ian McGrath, said that he hopes that the ads will "increase awareness of the campaign so that more families can benefit from it."

The Hearts and Minds Challenge aims to raise the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by autism, by ensuring the provision of the highest standards in education, care and support. For more information, please visit:

Does your child needs an iPad? Sign up for the Hearts and Minds mobile phone recycling campaign today:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

Friday, 30 November 2012

Free Apps Friday 29.11.12

For those of you with iPads and other iDevices, here are a selection of FREE apps that I have found this morning:

1. Oh, What a Tangle!

An interactive story

2. Everyday Mathematics® Monster Squeeze™

Number recognition with monsters. A two player game.

3. Toca Tailor Fairy Tales

Design and style clothes

4. Old MacDonald HD - by Duck Duck Moose 

An interactive story 

5. Move and Match

An educational app with word/symbol/picture matching

6. Social Stories

Another app for making social stories

7. Puzzle School

Up to 300 picture puzzles (10 initially)

8. Maths Facts Card Matching

Fun with Maths

9.  Lola's Beach Puzzle

Fun puzzles for 3-8 year olds

Thanks to Senict and Technology in Special Education for these apps

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Mad Men Ball raises £40,000 for children with autism!

Stars and celebrities from screen and sport were among the guests at the Mad Men Ball held last Sunday 25th November in the Hilton Hotel in Manchester.

The event raised around £40,000 for children with autism!

Thank you to everyone who supported the event.

More photos on the Hearts and Minds Facebook page here:

Monday, 19 November 2012

A lion in the clouds: another story of autism and an iPad

Three year old Elliot has non-verbal autism , but great computer skills.  His Mum tells his story:

I remember what a good baby he was, he didn't cry a lot and seemed happy and content.  I did notice  that he never pointed and rarely turned to his name.  He also was late with sitting alone and crawling. But it wasn't until his second birthday that I knew something just wasn't right...he was still crawling and it wasn't just forwards it was backwards and sideways.......

He finally walked at 26 months, but at the same time he stopped talking, he lost all the words he had learned, and he quickly began to isolate himself from the world, he became so distant, in his own bubble, and I couldn't reach him.   Up on his feet, he wouldn't make eye contact with anyone, even me, even when he was in the pram he would just close his eyes and put his hands over his ears.   He began to play with his toys in a different way, all cars would be turned upside down so he could spin the wheels and look at them up close...........

Everyone told me that he would catch up, that he was just late, or just a boy.....But I went to get help.... Then came the day, the day I won't ever forget, the day when a therapist said those words:


My heart felt as though it had been ripped out, I was in shock, devastated, scared, why me?  I was told he would have this for the rest of his life.  I think it took me months to even talk about it, it was like I was grieving for the normal life he should have had and with no choice had to get used to the new one.........but he was still my little man, still my Elliot, just Different. 

What followed was home research, hours and hours of research, conflicting studies, opinions, advice, listening to doctors waffle on, and signs and symptoms of Autism on searches.   I needed to understand his ways and habits, why he did the things he did.  I thought if I understood maybe I could help and get him back.  Soon after the appointments started, I had them coming out of my ears, lots and lots of talking/arguing/explaining/questions/hospital/ doctors/blood tests/brain scans/play therapy/speech therapy/physiotherapy/meetings with educational psychologists/ nursery/outreach workers and health visitors filling out form after form, explaining his habits, obsessions, fears, sensory issues with noise, touch, light, strict routine, makaton and pecs, life became very different.......

I had been told that Autistic children have their strengths, sometime they display remarkable abilities and skills from a young age.  Elliot is a visual thinker, and has strong technological skills through computers, and this was the only thing he seemed to show an interest in and connect to, this was the road to go down, so he could learn and progress. 

There are times I fear that I cant cope and the tide might just pull me under, moments when I think I don't do enough for him or I think too much about the future.  Then I plant my feet firmly back into the sand and I breathe normally again, as he will have done the smallest thing to remind me that he is unique and amazing.

I saw this so clearly when I bought an iPad for him and for the first time he actually used his imagination at 3 years old....he amazed me with his drawings, use of imagination and photography through his computer, my favorite was his use of the camera as he captured the clouds looking like a lion.

I really believe that all the fantastic learning apps and communication apps will encourage him to talk, communicate and continue the use of his imagination.

Elliot's Mum Sarah runs a support group for parents and children with disabilities in Morecambe and a great new page called Apps for Autism tested by Mums:

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Haircuts and #autism: 21 tips from parents

Image by John Kasawa
So many kids with #autism seem to find haircuts very traumatic.  If this is your child, then hopefully these tips from other Hearts & Minds parents may help:

1. Let him (or her) watch a favourite film, perhaps on the iPad.

2. Give his favourite soft toy a 'haircut' first.

3. Let him enjoy a favourite activity such as playing with water in the sink.

4. A home hairdresser can work well, once he is used to her.

5. Massage his head beforehand to desensitise a little - like body brushing before a bath.

6. A shampoo shield that keeps suds and water out of your child's eyes may help.  This one was recommended by one parent:,default,pd.html?cm_sp=ProductFeatures-_-Category%2520landing-_-Mothercare%2520Shampoo%2520Shield&q=shampoo%20shield

7. A social story that would go something like this: Find the clippers, sit on a chair, put on cape, hair gets cut then he gets to enjoy a favourite activity.

8. Clippers seem to work well when they are younger and introduce scissors when they are older.

9. Try cutting the hair while the child is asleep.

10. Avoid sensory overload by using soft music or nature sounds with headphones, dimming the lights and make the room as calm as possible.

11.  Use white noise for kids who enjoy the sounds of household equipment like vacuum cleaners and washing machines, or buy a Flow- bee, which is a vacuum cleaner attachment for cutting hair.

12. Use visual schedules, visual timers and build up tolerance by going to hairdressers every week.

13.  If your child doesn't like noise and vibration, try scissors on wet hair, then straight in the shower afterwards.

14. Take your child to a specialist children's or special needs hairdressing salon.  Try taking him once a week for just a comb through and build up to a bit of water spray and then finally a cut. Choose a quiet time and give him loads of praise and rewards afterwards.

15. For children who need to feel in control you could offer a choice between gelling it back and cutting it.

16.  Introduce the child to the clippers - perhaps let him feel them, or let him use them to cut the hair on a toy (both of these under close supervision obviously.

17. If the child doesn't like a shower, have a bath ready so that he can jump in as soon as the haircut is finished.

18. Let them play on the DS or iPad and be fast!

19. Wrap him in a towel whilst cutting his hair.  This keeps his arms away from the scissors and hair off his skin.  It also probably makes him feel more secure and one Mum also said that her son sits on her knee and that help him to cope too.

20. Remember to ask your occupational therapist for tips that could help your child.

21. Leave the ear area until last, wrap them in a blanket and put talc on their neck and face to stop the hair sticking and itching.

More great tips here too:

Monday, 12 November 2012

What happens when I've collected all the phones?


You've collected all the phones you need to get an iPad - or your choice of technology gift - from Hearts and Minds.

Perry and his collection of phones

So what happens now?

Obviously the kids are excited, they can't wait for the iPad to arrive, so parents can get a bit anxious, and there have been a number of queries about the process.  So here it is, step by step...

1. Email or to arrange collection of the phones.

2. One of the Hearts & Minds staff will email you back with the following information:

- the name of the courier company
- a collection date
- a reference number

3. The phones: Please leave them loose.  Just put into one or more plastic bags and knot tightly.  Put the bags in a strong cardboard box together.  Tape the box up securely so that no phones can fall out.

Address the box as follows:

Hearts & Minds,
3-5 Church Street,
Staffordshire ST14 8AG

Sender: (your name and address)

4. The couriers: please contact the them directly if you need to know the exact time of collection.  The courier company is Interlink and their phone number is 01782415513.

5. Collection day: please ensure that there is someone at the house on that day to hand over the phones.

6. Waiting for the iPad: It takes about 3 working days for the phones to be delivered and processed. You will then receive another email from Hearts & Minds with a tracking parcel number for the iPad once it has been despatched.

Your iPad should arrive within 14 days.

Open and enjoy :)

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

For queries on the collection of phones or the delivery of iPads: Tel-020 3130 0410

Monday, 29 October 2012

Does your child want an iPad for Christmas?

Are you hoping to get an iPad for your child for Christmas through the Hearts and Minds mobile phone recycling scheme? 

Now is the time for a final push to get those last few phones.  

Delivery times will lengthen in the run-up to Christmas as courier companies will be busy and iPad availability will be limited.

Looking for ideas?  There are lots of hints in this link for collecting old phones:

But one of the best ways to collect old phones is by asking the community for help through the local media.

Southport toddler Quinn Jones featured in the local paper recently and his Mum Kerry received 35 phones in the first 24 hours after the story was published and more followed..

Kerry got her story in the paper with the help of the Hearts and Minds team.  Contact for more details.

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

Thursday, 18 October 2012

In the news - October 2012

It's been a great month for Hearts and Minds in the news, helped by the TV launch of the £1 million  appeal to build a school for autism in Manchester:

There was also coverage of the launch in local and regional papers:

Manchester Evening News 10.10.12

Coverage of the mobile phone recycling scheme:

A mention for the Mad Men Ball:

Requests for phones:

And finally, two leading autism bloggers have given Hearts and Minds some publicity this month:

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Cycle round Spain with Keith Duffy and Paul Scholes

Yesterday, Keith Duffy and Paul Scholes confirmed that they will be joining the Hearts and Minds team for the Cycling Buddy Charity Challenge, a sponsored 4-day 300 mile bike ride from Malaga to Gibraltar in May 2013 to raise funds for the £1 million appeal to build a school in Manchester for children with autism.

More details about the Cycling Buddy Charity Challenge here:

The Hearts and Minds mobile phone recycling scheme also raises funds that will go towards the school for autism.  Families can exchange 165 old phones for an iPad. 

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Keith Duffy helps launch £1 million appeal to fund school for autism

Former Coronation Street actor Keith Duffy and Paralympic cyclist Rik Waddon yesterday launched a £1m campaign by Hearts and Minds to open a school in Manchester for youngsters with autism.

To date, the charity has raised more than £500,000 through sponsored bike rides and other charity events.  It is now looking at its most ambitious project so far – funding an Autism Centre of Excellence in Manchester.

Ex-Coronation Street star and Boyzone singer, Keith Duffy, said: "Autism affects development and, while there is no ‘cure’, there are a range of effective treatments which can have a real impact on the condition.   The centre that Hearts and Minds are pushing for will be one of the best of its kind in the UK, and will provide children with autism and their families with a real boost.   It will equip youngsters with the experiences they need to allow them to continue their education in a mainstream school and provide a great start in life."

The centre will initially school 25 pupils, aged three to 11.  Comprehensive evaluations for each student will be carried out to identify their personal strengths and needs, and bespoke programmes will be developed and tailored to each individual.   All classrooms will have five pupils with one teacher and two teaching assistants. The centre will also offer an on-site occupational therapist and two speech and language therapists, who will work closely with the children.   As well as working on academic skills, they will encourage the development of the pupils’ social and verbal abilities.   The centre will also provide family counselling, training for parents and training for emergency services personnel on the best way to approach the autistic people they may encounter in their work.

Hearts and Minds is still searching for a suitable location for the school.  Once this is in place and an opening date has been agreed, the details will be made public so that interested parents can register their children for places.

Ian McGrath, founder of Hearts and Minds, said: “It’s an ambitious project, but one we believe can be delivered. We have lots of different events coming up over the next 12 months and there are many ways for people to get involved and help raise funds. Our aim is to demonstrate that early intervention can be beneficial to young people with autism, not only does it make a big difference to the children it also makes a big difference to their future and we hope this approach  can be rolled out nationwide."

Rik Waddon, Paralympic cyclist, said: “The children and families supported by the Hearts and Minds Challenge are a true inspiration to me. The charity is such a worthy cause and the school in Manchester will make a real difference to so many families here in the North West. I’ll be supporting all the fundraising efforts and following the progress of the sponsored cycle ride next year."

You can watch ITV's coverage of the launch here:

Today, Paul Scholes and Keith Duffy confirmed that they will be joining the Hearts and Minds team for the Cycling Buddy Charity Challenge, a sponsored 4-day 300 mile bike ride from Malaga to Gibraltar in May 2013.

The Hearts and Minds mobile phone recycling scheme also raises funds that will go towards the school for autism.  Families can exchange 165 old phones for an iPad. 

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Friday, 5 October 2012

How to have a Happy Halloween with #autism

The noise, and colour and excitement and crowds at Halloween can be quite challenging for children with #autism.  So with the countdown underway here are some useful links to advice, information and apps to make the day more fun for everyone!

How to prepare and practice:

Apps to get your child in the mood:

And finally this might be helpful for some kids...

(from the Sound of Silence at

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sonny says thanks for the iPad

Another day, another iPad and another happy child! The Hearts and Minds mobile phone recycling scheme is changing lives all over Britain.

This is Sonny's story:


My name is Sonny.  I am 5 years old.  I was born at 25 weeks and weighing a whopping 790 grams.   Since my birth I have fought against infections, a heart attack and a series of mini strokes.  I am severely under-developed with my walking and talking, but I am doing far more than my Mummy was told I would ever achieve.  I have resolving chronic lung disease, which will never be fixed.  I have many issues with sounds, lights and smells. I have autistic tendencies and severe behavioral difficulties.  Currently I am waiting for a grant so that Mummy and Daddy can build an extension on our house so I can have my own room, I am unable to climb the stairs as recently I have developed epilepsy so I have frequent seizures – I sleep in a special bed in the lounge (which is great as I get the wide screen tv, log burner and comfy sofa).   I have a very high intelligence and am hyperactive so I don’t need much sleep to function, whereas Mummy does!!  I have two sisters who live with me, they are 10 and 7.  I drive them insane (apparently) with my constant questions and needs (I have no awareness of danger so need constant supervision).   I go to a specialist school for language and communication difficulties and in September I will be going into Year 1, which I am very excited about!  Mummy was put in touch with a UK Charity, Hearts and Minds, which has started a scheme to re-cycle old mobile telephones in exchange for an iPad. 

Look what 185 old mobile phones can do?  Gives me this cheesy smiley face!  Look at me now, I’m in iPad land and I love it! I can watch my favourite programmes through you tube and follow links as well as improve my fine motor skills by navigating the different apps (*cough, cough*) and give Mummy a small break as it is keep me very still!!! I am having a ball.

To all of my favourite friends: thank you, thank you, thank you – you are all truly superstars!! Lots of love Sonny xxxxxx 

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:


Thursday, 20 September 2012

A 3 Peaks Challenge for Hearts & Minds

The 3 Peaks Challenge for Hearts & Minds involves climbing the three highest mountains in the United Kingdom - Ben Nevis in Scotland; Scafell Pike, in the Lake District National Park and Snowdon in Wales - in 24 hours or 3 days: your choice.

The 24 hour challenge takes place from 14th to 16th June 2013.

The 3 day challenge takes place from 23rd to 26th August 2013

More about the 24 hour challenge:

We travel to Fort William on the Friday and climb Ben Nevis on the Saturday morning, we climb Scafell Pike in the early evening and finally, on Sunday morning we climb Snowdon.

People contemplating this particular event should have the necessary fitness and also be prepared for the endurance of lack of sleep.

We aim to complete the mountains in a time of 13 hours: Ben Nevis in 5 hours, Scafell Pike in 4 hours and Snowdon in 4 hours. The overall trip takes longer than 13 hours as you need to transfer by road to each mountain along the way.

The Challenge is guided by qualified mountain leaders and our driver is a professional and competent member of our company and will stay with the vehicle throughout the Challenge.  This event is a full on Challenge that will test your physical ability.

Typical Itinerary 

We run the trip over the weekend, Friday morning to Sunday Afternoon. We also offer a midweek Challenge, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.


We will meet up at different points of the route and travel to Fort William. We will have a briefing and check that all clients have the necessary equipment. For the remainder of the evening, we will be able to relax, eat an evening meal and prepare for the following event.


We aim to have breakfast at 7:00 am and depart for the beginning of the Challenge at approximately 8:00 am at Ben Nevis visitor centre. This should be a round trip of about 5 hours. A transfer to Scafell Pike in the Lake District National Park. Scafell will be an evening ascent (4 hour round trip).


Early hours of Sunday Morning, we will transfer to Snowdon, where we will complete the final part of the Challenge: climbing Snowdon, in approximately 3.5 hours. Drop offs along the route to Manchester.

Please note that this itinerary is only a guide and can be subject to change dependent upon fitness and weather conditions. 

Recommended Fitness Programme

The 3 Peaks challenge over 24 hours will require a high level of physical fitness and there is a preparation programme on the website:

A Few facts about the Mountains you will Climb 

Ben Nevis 

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. It is located in the West of the Grampian Mountains and is close to the town of Fort William. The mountain is 1,344 m (4,409ft) high. It was first climbed on 17th August 1771 by James Robertson. The track was built in 1883. There are ruins of Meteorologist observatory on the mountain.

Scafell Pike 

Scafell is the highest mountain in England and is located in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. The mountain is near the town of Gosforth. The base of the mountain runs along Wastwater, the deepest lake in England at 79 metres deep. Scafell is 978 m (3,209 ft) high.


Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales and is located in the Snowdonia National Park. It is 1,085 m (3,560 ft) tall and has several climbs up the mountain. The usual tracks that ‘The 3 Peaks Challenge’ takes are the Pyg track or miners track.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Hearts & Minds sponsored cycling challenge in sunny Spain

Fancy soaking up the sunshine in Andalucia on a bike while raising funds for children with autism?  Then join the Cycling Buddy Charity Challenge, a sponsored 4-day 300 mile bike ride from Malaga to Gibraltar in May 2013 in aid of Hearts and Minds and in association with  The cyclist that raises the most sponsorship money will win a holiday for 2 at a Villa in Portugal.  Funds raised will go towards plans by Hearts and Minds to build a school for autism.

Sign up for the challenge here:

“The CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge” is a cycling challenge that consists of cycling 300 miles in 4 days. You will start your challenge in Malaga and cycle through Ronda, Seville and Jerez before finishing in Gibraltar where you will enjoy an end of event celebration party.

Each day you will be in the saddle for around 6-8 hours, so padded shorts are a must! We guarantee the routes will keep you wanting more with challenging short sharp inclines, long energy sapping inclines, mixed with rewarding declines and plenty of opportunities to chill out and enjoy a chat. There will be scheduled breaks during each day and each evening we will be sampling the very best of Spanish culture.

By taking part in this challenging experience you will not only get the chance to cycle along some of the most scenic routes in Europe while making some great new friendships, you will also get to meet some of our celebrity supporters who will be joining us on the ride.

All the funds raised during this event will be used to make a difference to the lives of children with autism in the UK & Ireland.

Simply register for £100 and agree to raise a further minimum of £1600 and you will be part of “The CyclingBuddy Charity Challenge”

All members of get a 10% discount
You can join for FREE at

Return flights from the UK to Malaga
Coach transfers from airport to hotel
2 cycling shirts (Must be worn during the event)
All hotels including breakfast and evening meal
Food and energy drinks during each day’s cycling available at feeding stations
Bikes and bags transported by road and ferry
Marshalls to guide and assist you each day
Physiotherapists to help you recover at the end of each day’s cycling
Emergency medical team
All bags will be transported to the next hotel ready for your arrival
Celebration Party at the end of the event in Gibraltar
Advice on training for this event

Bike and equipment
Cycling Helmet (Helmets must be worn at all times when cycling)
Travel insurance


DAY 1 UK to Malaga 23rd May 2013
All cyclists will fly from the UK to Malaga and then be transferred to their hotel where they will collect their bikes to get them ready to start the ride the following morning.

DAY 2 Malaga to Ronda 24th May 2013
Day two will be the start of our challenge. You will start the ride from the hotel and cycle approximately 50 miles to Ronda. This will be the shortest and most difficult part of the ride. You will have some tough inclines ahead of you before you reach Ronda with average inclines of 2.6% to 6.9%

DAY 3 Ronda to Seville 25th May 2013
Day three takes us from Ronda to Seville covering approximately 75 miles. This part of the ride has plenty of good rewarding declines as well as a number of short inclines ranging from 2.5% to 4.8% average gradient.

DAY 4 Seville to Jerez 26th May 2013
Day four takes us from Seville to Jerez covering approximately 87 miles of undulating roads with no categorised inclines.

DAY 5 Jerez to Gibraltar 27th May 2013
Day five takes us from Seville to Gibraltar covering approximately 91 miles with a number of inclines in the middle of the ride with an average gradient of 2.8%. After arriving at Gibraltar we will get ready to celebrate finishing our challenge with a celebration party.

DAY 6 Gibraltar to the UK 28th May 2013
Return flights from Gibraltar to the UK

Set up your own page on our charity giving site so friends and family can sponsor you on line just go to
Hold a 50-50 raffle.
You sell raffle tickets at any event that you have going on. There is only one prize - half the takings! That’s right, some lucky person gets half of all the money taken. The other half of course goes towards your fundraising target. The more tickets that are sold - the bigger the jackpot! Build the excitement by showing the current total on a display board. It’s really important to whip up some enthusiasm for the raffle but keep it good fun.
Ask your employer if your company can support you.
Some companies will match the amount you raise.
Set a target amount you want to raise from your work place.
Let your colleagues know your target and offer to go to work in fancy dress for a day if they reach the target. Let them vote on your fancy dress outfit.
Hold a cake sale
Each Friday at work with all profits going towards your fundraising target.
Ask your local school to hold a no uniform day.
All pupils can pay £1 so they can wear their own clothes for the day instead of their uniform
Hold a charity fundraising night
Ask your local pub or club to hole a fundraiser such as a race night or pub quiz.
Bag pack
Ask your local supermarket to let you pack shopping bags in order to collect donations from shoppers.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Promo codes for Wombi apps for kids - have your iPads ready!

Swedish App developers Wombi have given eleven promotional codes for their kids' apps to Hearts and Minds.

AROUND THE CLOCK is their most ambitious app, containing 24 mini-games, one for every hour of the day.  It was included in the Guardian’s 50 BEST APPS FOR KIDS earlier this year.

There is one promotional code for this - first person to click gets it.

TOUCH AND LISTEN is a popular picture book app.  Check it out here:

Here are 10 codes to try it out for free:

(There is also a free lite version so everyone can get one copy:
If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

In the news - September 2012

More than 900 families have now registered with the Hearts and Minds iPad scheme and many are finding that a good way to collect old mobile phones is to get an article in the local paper or on-line.  Here are some recent examples...

A Daventry Mum is appealing for phones to get an iPad for 13 year old Callum, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Swansea Mum Carley Owen thanks readers for their help and asks for more.

A Cornish autism support group has a lovely write up about the Hearts and Minds challenge.

Mum Anne Stone (@okesanne) writes a heart-warming blog about life with 5 children, two of whom have autism.  Recently she registered for the Hearts and Minds scheme and she explains why in this post.

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A video celebration of kids with their iPads

More than 1000 people have now joined the Hearts and Minds Facebook page - just 3 months since the TV launch on May 31st.  And by the end of last week 900 families had registered for the mobile phone recycling scheme.   There are also 23 happy children - and families - who have finished collecting old phones and have exchanged them for iPads.  This (very short) film shows just how much their new devices mean to them...

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Jacob's story

This is the poster, and here is Jacob's heart-warming story as told by his Mum...

Jacob was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old.  He struggles with social, communication, learning and the world around him.  From an early age we figured Jacob wasn't like other children, and although we loved him unconditionally, we knew that having him diagnosed would open up a world and different opportunities for him.

Jacob attended mainstream school until last  October ( age 8)  when we finally won our two year battle to get him into a school locally for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  It was a hard, long, emotional battle. At times I even wondered if it would be worth the fight.  I questioned if I was doing the right thing many times, although I knew the truth was he belonged there.

Myself and my husband stayed true to our beliefs, and I will never forget the elation and relief we felt on the day of the accepting phone call.  We have never looked back, and Jacob is now finally enjoying and getting something out of school life.  It's just a shame his life at mainstream was so upsetting for him.

He is a adorable boy who fills my heart with joy and laughter.  He is a wonderful, isolated, quiet, complicated character who, along with his sisters, has completed my husband and my life.

The iPad from Hearts and Minds has given him an escape, and he is for the first time enjoying Mathematics and English work as he can visually see and understand on the iPad.

His favourite 'game' is subway surf!  Put on by his elder sister, he enjoys the visual fast movements and giggles away while playing it!

Thank you so much for the iPad, we could never explain enough the difference it has made to our beautiful boy.

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

This scheme began in Ireland:

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Jimmy 'Buttons' : or how an iPad helped one small boy with #autism

This article was originally posted on Crystal Jigsaw, a wonderful blog that covers life, farming, special needs and everything in between.  It's being reprinted here for #specialsaturday (details below) as the theme this week is iPads.  Links to how you can get an iPad for your child are also at the end of this piece.

 It was an auntie who christened him Jimmy 'Buttons'. He just couldn't pass them by. Phones, TV remotes, toys, keypads, you name it. But Jimmy has autism and he didn't always use those buttons in a useful way. That is until he started using an iPod Touch and then an iPad. According to Mum Katy, they helped with behaviour management, speech, motivation and his social skills. The family live in Donegal in North-West Ireland, but Katy is originally from Limehouse in East London.

The first signs of autism were when Jimmy lost the words he had as a baby, he wasn't comfortable in his clothes, began flapping his hands when he was excited or anxious, and developed an obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine. At first Katy felt like an over-anxious first -time Mum as she took her son back and forth to the GP with questions and worries. At playschool he still wasn't talking, and a referral to speech therapy eventually led to a diagnosis of autism in 2005. For his Mum the diagnosis came as a relief after all the uncertainty

After diagnosis Jimmy was referred to the local Assistive Technology Unit and various educational games were recommended. Even at just 3 years old, Jimmy 'Buttons' showed his family that he knew exactly what to do with them.

But with very little speech, it was still a struggle for anyone to understand his needs. One day in school he "threw a wobbler," and it took the teacher and his Mum almost two hours to get the word "teeth" out of him. To realise that your child is in pain and unable to explain or tell you where it hurts is heart-breaking, and could even have dangerous consequences.

Jimmy was already using a new communications App - Grace - and his toothache led to the inclusion of a whole section on the App about body parts together with a 'sore' button, so that if it happened again, he would be able to show and tell his Mum exactly where it hurt. Now at 9 his speech is much better, and it's mostly used as a reward and motivation for good behaviour. It's also brought the family together:

"He doesn't just sit and play on his own, he'll show us stuff, like trains that he's found on YouTube," says Katy. "He's learned to play Minecraft by watching his brother, and sometimes they do things together, and that's lovely to see."

It's not just kids with autism who can benefit. Even my own daughter, who has severe cerebral palsy, enjoys using the iPad. From watching the latest pop videos on Vevo, to interactive stories, to cause and effect apps, it provides great entertainment, and it's so easy to get her something new when she's bored. In September, I'm hoping to introduce her to a simple communications app in conjunction with her school.

Now the Irish scheme that helps children like Jimmy to get iPads is available in the UK through the Manchester-based Hearts and Minds charity.

It's very simple: Register on the website, collect old mobile phones and then swap them for an iPad. You will need a minimum of 165 phones. That may sound like a lot, but more than 1000 families in Ireland have succeeded and there are plenty of hints and tips on the website to help you. This scheme is open to families and schools and you don't have to have a child with special needs to take part.

What's in it for the charity? Well they make money from the scheme too, and this is will be used to build a school for children with autism in Manchester.

The info bit:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

There is also a similar scheme in Ireland:

If you know of anyone who could benefit from this scheme, please tell them :)

Special Saturday:

#specialsaturday which was set up by @savvywendy to improve awareness and increase understanding of special needs. It is now a global campaign and this week the topic is iPads, how they help kids with special needs and how to get them. @savvywendy is an inspirational mum of four kids, three with autism and other special needs. She is currently recovering from two strokes. Join #specialsaturday by 'liking' the facebook page -; following on twitter - @Specialsat and retweeting hashtag - #specialsaturday; or reading and following the Special Saturday Blog :

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A marathon race to build a school for autism

Want to get really fit and help children with autism?  Why not join the Hearts And Minds Challenge Marathon Team for the 2013 Manchester Marathon and help raise funds to build a school for autism.

Race date: 28th April 2013

Register: Now!  The sooner you register, the more time you will have to train and be ready.

Here is the link:

Race details:
Some changes have been made to the route for 2013 with the race village being located at Manchester United Football Club on the E2 Car Park in front of the stadium. The race now starts just a short walk away on the A56 White City Roundabout and finish outside the magnificent stadium of Old Trafford.

Some highlights of the new route:

  • The new race village will be situated at Old Trafford football stadium, on the E2 car park in front of the main stand.
  • The race will start on the A56 at the White City roundabout, a short walk from the race village at MUFC.
  • The marathon route keeps all of the great sections that competitors liked last year and misses the sections that through feedback have been removed.
  • The route will be held entirely on main roads
  • More of the route in Altrincham where the crowd support was amazing.
  • No narrow lanes; open rural sections; underpasses; or muddy areas.
  • There is a new finish outside Old Trafford stadium, Manchester United Football Club (MUFC) on Sir Matt Busby Way.

The improved course is even flatter than last year’s race with only 55m of elevation gain, so is great for anyone looking to do their first marathon, or for those looking to set a new personal best time.

Start and finish: Old Trafford, MUFC
Marathon Start: 09:00

More information:

More about the Hearts and Minds charity here:

Twitter: @handmchallenge 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Primary school through the eyes of a boy with Asperger's

Who says that kids with Asperger's don't look at the positives? An articulate journey through the primary school years..

Hi, I'm Fionn and one day when I'm famous they will tear down the house and find this and put it in a museum.

On June the 30th after 3 days labour pains and I was finally born. When I opened my eyes I saw Mum and Dad and that's where my story begins.

I had an older brother and sister who used to play with me on the trampoline and the climbing frame. When I went to school I was very young and I found it very hard to make friends. So Mum and Dad brought me to a specialist and I was diagnosed with Asperger's. This helped us all understand about me. At this stage I got another brother and we were really close.

One day towards the end of P2 I had a bad accident. I was on the trampoline with my brothers and a friend, who somersaulted and fell with such force I went up in the air and I landed on my head on the cement. I had a brain haemorrhage and a skull fracture. I was very ouchy.

When I got to P3 I made my first real friends. I sat beside M and we started talking during maths. Then we became best friends and he introduced me to his friends and that's where I met most of my friends today. In P4 I made Communion and had a fantastic party with balloons and coke! After Communion we went on holiday to Italy and had an awesome time. We had a huge villa with a big pool and a beach close.

In P5 I had a great teacher and a great assistant who I forgot to mention earlier. I had a really good year and in the summer holidays I went to Spain for a week and it was beautiful. The sun was out, the sand was hot and the waves were big and I made some friends.

Now I'm in P7 with a great teacher and have had him until the time of writing. We will make our confirmation soon after and go to Manchester after.

More about the Hearts and Minds charity here:

Twitter: @handmchallenge  

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Top Tips for collecting old phones

You want an iPad for your child, who has autism, or special needs, or none.  You've registered with the Hearts and Minds charity to collect old mobile phones to exchange for an iPad.  So where to start? 

The official launch of the scheme was at the end of May, and many of the families who've got their iPads since then have been happy to share their top tips for collecting phones.  This is what worked for them:

Hints and tips from parents

1. Facebook - from pestering friends and family, to setting up and promoting a dedicated Facebook page and/or Facebook event.  Post updates on the campaign and perhaps photos of donated phones with a thank you message for the donor. 

2. Twitter - 'phenomenal' is how one Mum described the twitter response to her request for phones.

3. Workplace - colleagues and customers have supported some families. 

4. School - one Mum says she is now known as "the crazy lady who wants old mobiles!" But it worked..

5. Local businesses, shops, community centres and pubs - ask if they will put up posters or a collection box for you.  Some businesses may have collections of employees' old contract phones.

6. Media - Newspapers and radio stations love heart-warming stories, and several have run articles and interviews with local families about their child and publicising their need for old phones.

Hearts and Minds can also help with securing media coverage: Just contact for more details.

7. Local buy/sell/giveaway sites - families found that people tend to be very generous in support of a good cause.

8. Swap phones for...fresh chicken eggs, home-baked fairy cakes, or anything else that would incentivise your friends, family, neighbours and other local people.

9. Swap things on Facebook by advertising items your family no longer needs on the swap/for sale sites in return for any old or broken phones.

10. Local small phone shops may have old or damaged phones that they don't need.

11. Local councils recycle phones so see if they will donate to you instead.

12. Ask at your local Church and they may support your campaign.

13. Make sure people know why you want the phones and how your child will benefit.  Hearts and Minds has posters that can be emailed to you.

14. From a Mum in Ireland:

"I put gift wrapped boxes with my child's picture and details of the recycling scheme in local schools and shops, got friends that worked on factory floors to bring in buckets with my child's face on them, I went to lost & found in (police) stations, and bus & train stations, I got friends to share on FB, I went to Chinese mobile phone shops & repair shops, and got unusable unfixable phones from them too.... Everybody has at least one or two old phones ones hanging around the back of a drawer, I just badgered everybody until I got what I needed!"

And finally...

Make sure that people know that about the big prize:


More about the Hearts and Minds charity here:

Twitter: @handmchallenge  

Saturday, 28 July 2012

What sort of mobile phones can be recycled and other FAQs

Hundreds of families are now collecting old mobile phones to get an iPad for their child from Hearts and Minds, and the questions are rolling in too:

1. What sort of mobile phones can be recycled?

Your total should consist mainly of recent phones - from the last 10 years - though a few older phones like this can be included:

The charity will accept up to 10 phones that may be:
...over 10 years old.
...missing parts (except the battery cover)

Phones less than 3 years old with broken screens will also be accepted.

2. Do the phones need to have batteries in them?

Yes they do.

3. Do you take phones from overseas?

Yes.  If they're being posted make sure that the ends of the batteries are sealed with sellotape and packed separately from the phones.

4. Do you take phones from America?

American phones operate on a different band, so only a few can be accepted, more if they are GSM phones rather than CDMA.

5. We have more phones than we need, how can we help other kids?

Either give them to another family locally or send them directly to Hearts and Minds where they will go towards fundraising for the school for children with autism.

6. Do you accept mobile phone batteries?

Yes, but they don't count towards your total unless there is a phone to go with them.

7. Is there a good poster to help publicise my phone collection?

Yes, this poster

8. How long have I got to collect the phones?

The campaign will run until the end of the year at least.

9. Do the phones have to be working?


10. Can I send in phones from overseas?

Absolutely, and many people do not realise this.  But they MUST be GSM phones and not CDMA phones.  Most countries use GSM, check this website for detail:

11. What are the best ways to collect phones?

Watch this space....another blog post on is coming soon!

More about the Hearts and Minds charity here:

Twitter: @handmchallenge