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A TOUCH OF CLASS; Oasis room to stimulate pupils' senses.


A SCHOOL has unveiled a pounds 14,000 room which brings learning to life by stimulating all the senses.

West Kirby Residential School is behind the venture.

The school caters for pupils aged five to 19 with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

And now at the school's heart is a new room known as 'Oasis.' The multi-sensory room is full of interactive equipment which stimulates sight, touch, sound and even smells.

The school hopes the room will be a relaxing part of the building.

But staff also hope the therapeutic environment will help pupils thrive in their studies.

The room is home to an array of different lighting effects such as funky elaborate fibre optics and bubble tubes to stimulate sight.

It also has a 'twinkle ceiling ' with a series of changing lights embedded into tiles.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the room though is an interactive wall.

Known as Paletto the wall is able to pipe 64 different sounds.

At any one time staff or pupils can press one of eight buttons set to a different theme.

Topics range from sounds of nature and animals to the sound of showers and a flushing toilet which could complement a project about hygiene.

Staff can also record their own sounds or narrative to fit the lesson.

"For example for a project about the jungle we might put green drapes around it along with noises," paediatric physiotherapist, Jackie Meadows explained.

A host of visual images are beamed into the room to help bring lessons alive.

The room also has a big emphasis on touch with different textures of fleeces, blankets and textured wall panels.

Background music is also piped through to the room as are aromatic smells such as lavender.

This can range from soothing dolphin noises to sounds of woodlands and relaxing story CDs.

Ms Meadows said: "There are two main goals of a multi-sensory room to encourage relaxation in a safe and comforting environment and promote intellectual activity by therapeutic work."

The children take control of their own environment - deciding how much or how little stimulation they have and which senses to activate.

The room was entirely funded by children's charities Wooden Spoon and Committed to Helping and Understanding Children (CHUC).

It is likely most pupils will have weekly sessions ion the room.

But it will also be used as stimulating backdrop to other lessons and events such as parents' evening.

Workshops for parents will also be run so they can replicate ideas from the room at home.


WOW: Pupil Joe Flannagan enjoys the many lights and sounds in the sensory room at West Kirby Residental School Pictures: JAMES MALONEY/JM240909WK
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 29, 2009
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