Downs View school opens new sensory room funded by Rockinghorse.

The specialist school in Woodingdean had completed work on their new sensory room thanks to fundraising by Rockinghorse Children’s Charity.

We were so pleased to be able to visit Downs View for the official opening of the sensory room along with Paul Yallop and Stevie Pugh from the Camelia Botnar Foundation.

Vanessa Hickey with Stevie and Paul from Camelia Botnar

Downs View provides specialist education for children aged 4-16 with a range of different learning disabilities. The school aims to prepare their young people for their future life, helping them develop skills that will enable them to reach their very highest possible potential.

The new sensory room will support pupils throughout the school in many ways. It will offer those children who may be reluctant to engage a chance to develop their communication and interaction abilities, offer a place where students can receive support away from the more structured classroom environment and of course provide a fun, interactive space.

This is not something that the school have been able to offer their pupils for a long time and they are already seeing the benefits. With this bigger space tailored to the specific needs of children with autism spectrum condition (ASC) and with plans to provide separate sensory areas for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties, the sensory room allows more children to get more regular access to the benefits of sensory activities.

Vanessa Hickey, Head Teacher at Downs View explained this difference this new room will make to the school: “The wonderful new equipment provides so much opportunity for the children to grow and learn.

“Furthermore, this amazing space has and will continue to play an important part in supporting the children with the inevitable anxieties many of them face as a result of the transition of settling back into school life after such uncertainty over the past year.”

Jack enjoying the bubble tubes

Paul Yallop, the Chief Executive of the Camelia Botnar Foundation who generously donated towards the new equipment said: “We are so proud to have been able to work with Rockinghorse to help provide this wonderful sensory room at Downsview School. Experiencing it first-hand really shows us what a valuable resource it will be for the pupils and staff at the school both now and in the future.”

Vanessa added: The new sensory room provides a range of sensory experiences for them with lights, sounds, textures, and other sensory inputs in a calm and positive way, and is a safe space for them to relax and explore and engage their different senses.

When the pupils see that they have time in the sensory room on their timetable they are always really happy. They get so much benefit from sessions in there and along with being great fun, it really helps the teachers to assess their needs. It works brilliantly for planned one to one sessions but equally it’s really wonderful for communal activities where the children can enjoy the sessions together.”

Sharon Gearing, Trust Fundraising Manager at Rockinghorse, was really pleased to be able to see the end result of the charity’s fundraising: “Because of the restrictions in place due to COVID over the last 18 months we haven’t always been able to experience first-hand the equipment we have fundraised for. Being used so seeing some of the children here actually in the sensory room having fun means so much to us.

“We hope that this space will help pupils at Downs View for many years to come!”

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