Cambridge Paralympic star unveils new facility for local children with disabilities
Paralympic, World and European Champion Jonnie Peacock officially opened a BT-funded multi-sensory room for children with physical and learning disabilities at Samuel Pepys School in St Neots, Cambridgeshire today (Thursday 9 July). Samuel Pepys School becomes the 20th special education needs school to benefit from the partnership between BT and the Lord’s Taverners charity, which will help to improve the lives of over 18,000 young people with communication difficulties across the UK.
Samuel Pepys School caters for 96 pupils aged 3-18 with special educational needs, including severe and complex learning difficulties. Many have additional needs including visual or auditory impairments, autistic spectrum conditions, sensory processing difficulties, communication and language difficulties and physical needs.
Multi-sensory rooms feature a relaxing and stimulating variety of lights, sounds and textures, which help children with physical and learning disabilities to engage in a learning environment that suits their educational needs. The rooms can result in dramatic benefits to children with sensory impairment, helping enhance development of senses such as hearing, sight, smell and touch.
Samuel Pepys School’s new sensory room will make a significant difference to its pupils by providing access to new technology in an exciting new learning environment. The facility will promote engagement for all pupils by linking with curriculum themes, such as bringing stories to life through an interactive backdrop, and can be adapted to help meet pupils’ individual needs.
BT’s partnership with the Lord’s Taverners will see multi-sensory equipment installed in at least 26 schools in the UK by the end of 2016. With BT pledging to maintain the specially-adapted classrooms until 2020, the lives of more than 18,000 young people with severe physical and learning disabilities and communication difficulties across the country will be improved thanks to the partnership.
Jonnie Peacock, BT Ambassador and Paralympian, said: “It’s essential that we do everything we can to improve the lives of young people with disabilities. To witness first-hand the effects that these multi-sensory rooms have on young people’s lives is incredible, and I am delighted to see BT working to increase the number of sensory rooms, which will help thousands of young people with disabilities all over the UK.”
BT’s volunteering initiative, the BT School Champions programme, matches a BT employee to each special educational needs school it is supporting. BT has created a bespoke school charity portfolio of offers that the schools can benefit from – such as help creating a website – and each BT School Champion will work closely with their school’s leadership team to identify opportunities for BT to provide further support in the form of volunteers and fund-raising advice.
Stephen Hall, BT Champion for East Anglia, said: “I’m thrilled to be here today for the official opening of this fantastic sensory room in my role as BT Champion for the school. I’m looking forward to supporting the school leadership team with their community-based activities moving forwards. ”
Joanne Hardwick, Head Teacher of Samuel Pepys School, said: “On behalf of the school’s pupils, staff and governors, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation of the support we have received from the Lord’s Taverners and BT. We are delighted to benefit from such generosity and are looking forward to starting to plan for the enhanced learning opportunities this resource will provide for our pupils.”
Paul Robin, Chief Executive of the Lord’s Taverners, said: “The Lord’s Taverners is dedicated to giving young people a sporting chance so we are delighted to work with BT to help improve the lives of thousands of young people with disabilities across the UK. This new sensory room will benefit the teachers, carers and families of Samuel Pepys School’s young people and enhance the learning experience and future development of its pupils.”