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Creating a sensory room for pupils in Oldham

Posted in: Foundation

Natalie Baker applied for an award to build a sensory room that was inspired by her daughter Ruby.

Ruby joined St Edward’s RC mainstream school four years ago. She suffers from a terminal illness called Leigh Syndrome, which leads to progressive loss of mental ability and movement.

St Edwards caters for Ruby’s needs really well, and she is is always part of the classroom. The teachers adapt resources so that she can share the same experiences as all the other children, and as a result she loves coming to school; and everyone at the school loves having Ruby there!

Last year we were faced with the difficult decision to keep Ruby in mainstream education at St Edwards, as her condition means that she isn’t always physically able to do what her friends do. We did consider moving her to a school that could meet her specific needs, but we really couldn’t bring ourselves to take Ruby away from the friends she has made over the past four years.

"The Foundation bid really set a light under our whole fundraising campaign."

One of Ruby’s teaching assistants Mrs Maders came up with the idea of creating a sensory room at the school. Not only would it benefit Ruby by offering her a place to stimulate her senses, but it would enrich the school experience for the entire student body.

Initially it seemed like the money we needed to raise for the room was a really big ask, but when I received a letter about the Foundation, suddenly we had an opportunity to deliver what we’d dreamed about, in a much shorter space of time.

"We didn’t think for one minute that it would go this far. It’s really brought out the best in everybody."

All the children in school were very excited by our application, and it really raised their awareness of the issues Ruby and some of the other children with SENs face. Ruby’s friends were desperate to get involved, and took on board all sorts of fundraising activities to help out, from sponsored swims to cake stands, and lots more besides.

We produced flyers that went out to all parents encouraging them to vote, and also put a note into our parish newsletter. Our local paper also supported us by running a front page article about our project, and as a result, we received two anonymous donations from members of the community who were touched by our story.

We were all over the moon when we found out that we’d won the award as the sensory room will allow Ruby and the other children to enjoy the best of what school days have to offer. The money will pay for all the equipment we need for the room, and it will now be ready for when the children come back to school in September.

"Although money can’t buy happiness, it can help secure a happier future for my daughter and the rest of the children at the school which is the best gift a mother could ask for."

For us, the Foundation was so much more than winning. Thanks to all the additional donations and fundraising it inspired, we far exceeded our initial fundraising target, so the school are now planning to develop a sensory garden area which will benefit the children even further. Without Engage, this simply would not have been possible.