The pupils of Crawley based secondary school, Oriel High, chose Chailey Heritage Foundation as its charity of the year for 2014.
They raised a staggering £14,422 on a sponsored walk to transform a tired outdoor area in the middle of the residential bungalows at Chailey Heritage Foundation into a stunning outdoor multi-sensory activity area. One of the boys taking part has cerebral palsy himself and completed the entire 10 mile walk on crutches.
Walking in fancy dress along the Worth Way to Crawley Down, where most stop for a spot of lunch, the pupils then walk the return journey back to school – 10 miles (16km) in total. Each student raised on average £17 which contributed to a magnificent total of £14,422. One of the Year 7 girls raised an amazing £1,026.
On Thursday 26th March, pupils from Oriel High made finishing touches to the raised flowerbeds before attending the official opening, and socialising with the children who will benefit from the new multi-sensory activity area.
The majority of young people who stay on the bungalows at Chailey Heritage Foundation have cerebral palsy with additional sensory impairments, mainly hearing, sight or speech. All have to use wheelchairs to get around and have minimal limb movement and speech.
Dr Martin Langner, the Charity’s Senior Engineer who helped design and build some of the equipment said “Providing our young people with a new set of choices can help inspire them to try new things, particularly a ‘fun and a learning opportunity’. Many of our young people have difficulty in understanding how they can make things happen around them (cause & effect). Multi-sensory environments improve the development of thought, intelligence and social skills whilst also offering those with cognitive impairments and other challenging conditions the opportunity to enjoy and control a variety of sensory experiences.”
The area consists of wall mounted mechanical sensory features ranging from tactile surfaces for the young people to drive over in their wheelchairs, to giant tubular bells and water jets that can be controlled by specialist switches. There are also rain/sun shades, lighting and raised flowerbeds all helping to create a space which can be enjoyed all year round by the young people living at Chailey Heritage Foundation.
Mum, Amanda, described how multi-sensory activities help her spirited 14-year-old daughter, Rosie.
“Rosie has been profoundly deaf and blind since birth. She arrived at Chailey Heritage Foundation over three years ago now and lives full time in the residential bungalows, cared for by a wonderful, loving team.
For a child with such a serious multi-sensory impairment accessing the environment around her is extremely difficult. It’s incredibly important for a child like Rosie to have as many multi-sensory activities as possible in her life.
The quad area in the middle of the residential bungalows was crying out to be redeveloped. It has now been transformed into a fantastic multi-sensory activity area. This means the kids need only walk (or ride) a short distance and immediately enter a world of touchy, feely fun. Rosie can feel and smell the flowers in the raised garden beds, play with the water feature, explore the light tunnel, and rest in the shade. And all of this can be done with her carer at any time of the day.”
The bungalows baked home-made cakes for the pupils from Oriel High as a thank you and Emma Welch, one of the young people who lives at Chailey Heritage, said “I am very much looking forward to spending time outside using the new equipment and enjoying barbecues with all my friends.”
“We all feel incredibly humbled by the enthusiasm and determination of the pupils at Oriel High to raise the funds to build this fantastic outdoor multi-sensory activity area for our young people. To have raised so much is a remarkable achievement and one they should be really proud of.” said Sally-Anne Murray, Chailey Heritage Foundation’s Development Director.
To find out more about Chailey Heritage Foundation and the work we do, please visit our website at www.chf.org.uk you can also visit our YouTube channel for a brief aerial tour of the multi-sensory activity area – https://www.youtube.com/user/ChaileyHeritageFound
Report and picture contributed by Chailey Heritage Foundation.