It was with great pride and excitement that the Chiltern Centre for Disabled Children unveiled their newly refurbished sensory room on Tuesday. The room’s renovation was supported by the Mark Benevolent Fund and the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, whose generous donations have helped the charity to create a fantastic sensory experience for the Centre’s children. Representatives from both benefactors were present for the opening ceremony, along with a number of the charity’s Trustees. John Bell, a Trustee of the Mark Benevolent Fund, revealed the ceremonial plaque, expressing, “It’s a tremendously proud moment for me to come and unveil the plaque, and to see the result of the money given by the fund.”
The Chiltern Centre, on Greys Road, provides care for disabled children and their families within the local area. From ages 5 to 25, the Centre offers day and evening care for a number of physically and learning disabled young people. Centre Manager, Keith Manning, was full of enthusiasm as he explained the features of the new room. “It’s about trying to encourage stimulation for children whose experience of the world is sensory,” he explained. A few of the room’s attributes include a ball bit, a touch pad emitting different smells, and strip lights which change colour when a corresponding cube is rolled. The needs and wishes of the children, Keith stressed, were paramount in the building of the room. The Centre went so far as to conduct surveys with other children in care to learn what they would like, resulting in a sound activated ‘never-ending light-scape’.
The effort put into the sensory room’s creation seems not to have gone amiss; the sensory room is already a hit with the children. Guests at the opening heard the touching story of one boy in a wheelchair, who adores music, yet usually needs help from workers at the Centre to make his own music. However, the room now has an interactive floor projection, including a keyboard. “He came into the room and saw the keyboard,” Mr. Manning recollected, “and his face was amazing, absolutely truly amazing. What this had brought to him was the ability to create this music without anyone supporting him.”
Promoting independence is another key benefit of the sensory room. The soft play area, Keith pointed out, is a great way to promote positive risk taking within a safe space. Moreover, due to the room’s size comfortably fitting 5 people, the children can be encouraged to engage with their peers. “The equipment is fabulous but in many ways it needs people because many of the children are unable to do things for themselves,” said Mr. Manning. By virtue of the Mark Benevolent Fund and the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, combined with the excellent staff at the Chiltern Centre, the sensory room looks set to enhance the fantastic service provided by the charity.