Sensory room gets a new lease of life

Molly Rutter in the sensory room at Barndale.
Molly Rutter in the sensory room at Barndale.

Special needs children will now be able to enjoy a more modern ‘sensory room’ after an overwhelming community response to a fund-raising campaign.

Kind-hearted folk have helped Barndale House School in Alnwick collect more than £10,000 for the cause – doubling the

initial target.

The money will go towards transforming the venue’s sensory room, which is a special facility providing stimulation through colour, sound and touch.

And school administration assistant Sally Carrigan, who earlier this year launched the fund-raising campaign, is delighted at the response.

She said: “We never expected to raise as much as we have done.

“I was hoping that maybe we might reach our target of £5,000, but to raise more than £10,000 is incredible. It is beyond our dreams.”

Barndale House, on Howling Lane, caters for children between the ages of three and 19 who have severe learning difficulties, in many cases autism, which causes a deterioration of the senses.

The sensory room assists in their development and contains an array of high-tech gadgets capable of providing stimulation in a variety of ways.

But the fund-raising appeal was launched to modernise the room and bring the facilities up to date.

The initial £5,000 will go towards the installation of more relaxing lighting and purchasing soundbeam equipment, and proper padding for the bubble tube, among other things.

The extra £5,000-plus will allow the school to buy resources to use in the room, such as more sound and projection equipment, as well as individual items for children with individual needs.

Sally said: “The sensory room provides a different way for the children to learn and a place where they can come to relax and recuperate.

“A great number of our children use the sensory room, which is a fantastic resource that benefits them in so many different ways.

“It is absolutely brilliant that we have been able to raise this much money and improve the room.”

The scheme worked by donors sponsoring ‘stars’, each with a different value.

Each star equated to different items on the school’s ‘galaxy wish-list’, ranging from cushions, pillows and shimmer curtains to electric bubble lamps, fibre optics and light defractors.

Every donor is to receive a thank-you star featuring their name and also be mentioned in a galaxy-themed montage outside the sensory room.

It is hoped that the new-look room, to be called the Galaxy Sensory Room, will be ready for the start of the January term.

Donations have been both large and small and come from a variety of sources.

Sally admitted there was too many people to thank, but said the school was grateful to everyone who had come forward to help.

She said: “We want to say a big thank-you to everybody who has donated and offered support. It has been a phenomenal community response.”

Barndale House offers a broad and balanced curriculum adapted to meet the needs of pupils. This ensures a high quality of education for all.