LIKE many South Lakeland families, the Saunders’ lead quite a ‘chaotic and hectic life.’

But ‘it just happens that’ their youngest daughter, six-year-old Maia, has Down’s Syndrome.

Sarah and Martin Saunders, of Kendal, along with their other three children, were in and out of hospital for the first part of Maia’s life and had to quickly adapt to what was happening.

As they have grown older Jacob, 13, Joel, 11 and eight-year-old Ava each take it in turn to help look after Maia on a daily basis.

“They never really questioned Maia’s challenge,” said Sarah “They just embraced it and took it on so quickly. Jacob, Joel and Ava just see Maia as their little sister and are extremely protective of her.”

The Westmorland Gazette’s Give them a Break campaign aims to raise £20,000 to provide carers, young and old, who voluntarily take care of a loved-one or relative who is ill or disabled, some much-needed respite.

It could be a day’s activity, an adventure trip, a one-night dinner, a bed and breakfast stay at an hotel or a day’s walking.

The couple explained that the children were always ready to help with Maia be it at home, at the supermarket or on a family trip away.

“The children don’t realise it but they need a little break away from time to time,” said Sarah “Ten-year-old boys should be able to play football and not get called upon at school or at home to help with Maia and South Lakeland Carers has been great to help relieve some of that responsibility.”

South Lakeland Carers, (SLC), a charity which provides practical and emotional support and advice to around 1,250 unpaid carers across the area, has helped the family by providing the opportunity for Joel, Jacob and Ava to have a break with other children.

“They get to go to a place where they can express themselves, where they can be open and integrate and engage with others.” said Sarah

“It’s a really positive environment for the children, where they have no responsibilities and they get to think about nothing but themselves.”

Ava said the SLC Young Carers support group was a great way to get out and explore with friends while knowing Maia was happy at home.

“I really like going there because I make a lot of friends and we get to go little adventures, like ice skating,” she said.

Sarah said: “For the children to be able to go away on an adventure trip would do them so much good, for them to have a day where it can be all about them. Everybody has challenges, I don’t think there’s anybody out there who doesn’t have challenges ”

To donate to the campaign, complete the coupon and return it to Mike Addison, Give Them a Break, The Westmorland Gazette, 1 Wainwrights Yard, Kendal, LA94DP.

Make cheques payable to ‘Give Them a Break.’ You can also visit www.virginmoneygiving. com/fund/GiveThemaBreak