Sensory Garden For Widnes School

The Steve Morgan Foundation has provided a grant of £20,000 towards improving the Sensory Garden for a specialist school in Widnes.

Chesnut Lodge is a school catering for pupils aged between two and 19 with physical disabilities and complex medical and sensory needs, with an emphasis on developing their communication and social skills.

The school already has a sensory room, which is used for at least one session a day by the most severely disabled children, but was in need of vital improvement works to its sensory garden.

The Steve Morgan Foundation made an award of £20,000 towards this work, with Director of Regional Funding Jane Harris officially handing the cheque over on a day when the school also marked their achievements in achieving the ArtsMark Silver award, UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools Gold Award and the Nurturing Schools Award.

“The school had been fundraising to renew their much-loved and much-used sensory garden, which forms an integral part of their sensory curriculum,” said Jane.

“The poor condition of the garden had meant that it had become inaccessible for students with limited physical ability because of uneven surfaces and trip hazards.

“Tree roots had uplifted the tarmac; raised wooden planters had rotted and were disintegrating and the old wooden seating which was particularly treasured by the older pupils, had had to be removed.

“An updated sensory area with levelled surfaces is now accessible to all pupils and encourages independent standing and walking over a range of textures and surfaces. 

“The area can also be a safe outside classroom with two covered areas providing opportunities for cross curricular learning such as creative writing, observation and investigation skills in science, as well as play, growing fruit and vegetables in contained planters and bird watching. 

“Water, light, wind sound features provide a multi-sensory environment for pupils with more complex needs and encourage interaction and communication for pupils who struggle to play and socialise independently.  

“The multi-purpose space also has the scope to be utilised by parents, carers and the local community, who will be involved as volunteers in running gardening clubs and teaching various life skills in this area.

“The school aimed to build a long-lasting and sustainable sensory area that will give as much physical and sensory stimulation as possible to benefit pupils’ learning, socialising and wellbeing.”

The Foundation’s award of £20,000 added to other funding raised by the school from sponsored events, support from local businesses, cashback from the Co-op and Easy Fundraising, to reach the overall costs of almost £60,000 for the renovation work.

The new Sensory Garden was officially unveiled at the special ceremony last Friday.

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