PARENTS and children in Trafford can have a whale of a time while fighting meningitis as a charity launches its new national underwater-themed Toddle Waddle.

Meningitis Now has invited nurseries, playgroups, parents and schools to host a free sponsored stomp for under fives.

Babies and children are most at risk – meningitis kills more under fivess than any other infectious disease and more than half of cases occur in that age group.

This year’s theme is Under the Sea, so youngsters can plunge into the depths of their imaginations, learn about the deep blue and fundraise to fight the deadly disease.

All activities meet Ofsted’s Early Years Foundation Stage and other educational frameworks.

The charity is working in partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books and celebrated children’s author and illustrator Nick Sharratt, who illustrated Toddle Waddle by Julia Donaldson.

Nick said: “Toddle Waddle is a fantastic way for children to have fun while learning, and also a really easy way to support such a great cause.

“Meningitis is a terrifying disease because its symptoms are hard to spot and it often targets babies, toddlers and young children.

“It’s so important that people have all the information they need so they can act fast if they suspect meningitis.

“Support Meningitis Now by holding a Toddle Waddle, which will raise vital awareness and funds, so the charity can continue its fight.”

Those who sign up receive everything needed to organise a Toddle Waddle, including fun sea-themed activities and fundraising tips.

Toddle Waddle coordinator Caroline McDonnell said: “Organising a waddle is a doddle, they can be held wherever and whenever you like and be as long or short as you want.

“The event submerges youngsters in fun and learning, and will greatly help our work by raising awareness of meningitis as well as money to help fight it.”

Toddle Waddle launched 13 years ago to ensure that childcare workers, families and children were aware of meningitis and to aid the charity.

Since launching, the annual fundraising event has raised around £3million.

Meningitis Now fights the disease on all fronts – funding pioneering research to eradicate meningitis, supporting people with after-effects and their families, and raising awareness.

The charity needs to raise £10,000 a day to fund its services.

To sign up or for more information, visit or call 0845 120 4530.