Lincolnshire charity, Linkage Community Trust, will take to the road on an innovative sensory bus to help children access the support they need, thanks to funding from the ScottishPower Foundation.
Rural isolation makes it difficult for many families to access support for their children with special educational needs. In response to this, Linkage Community Trust is taking its ‘Linkage Sensory Outreach’ project to 12 new schools. The innovative sensory bus will visit rural schools across Greater Lincolnshire to provide a sensory therapy resource where it’s most needed.
Funded by the ScottishPower Foundation, the Linkage Sensory Bus is a fully accessible converted bus offering children the opportunity to access and benefit from a sensory room at no cost. The sensory bus will spend seven sessions with each school and has been designed to provide a fully immersive experience, with sights, sounds, smells and textures to explore.
Sensory therapy is known to have many developmental and therapeutic benefits and can improve feelings of overall wellbeing and happiness. With interchangeable themes, including everything from an undersea world to an English country garden, the sensory bus will be able to be adapted according to needs of the users. It can be a calm and relaxing environment or a stimulating interactive space.
As well as supporting children with special educational needs, the sensory bus also supports children with anxiety and those who need extra support with their speech and language.
A spokesperson for Skegness Junior School, said: “It’s amazing to have access to this wonderful resource, which will make a real difference for our school and our children. The sensory bus will give our children a fun learning experience in an environment they don’t have access to on a day-to-day basis in school, which will help them in such a creative way and support the development of their communication and social skills. Seeing their faces light up and hearing their laughter as they interact with the sensory experience will be an absolute joy. I can’t wait to see their reactions.”
Niz Smith, Project Co-ordinator at Linkage Community Trust’s sensory bus, said: “Without the sensory bus, most children with special educational needs wouldn’t have access to sensory equipment and schools wouldn’t be able to see what works for children in their care. Some families and education experts tell us that to access this sort of sensory support in the past, children would need to be taken out of the county and that’s just not good enough.
“Thanks to the schools and the ScottishPower Foundation’s support, we’re able to bring this fantastic resource directly to the children who need it the most. It’s a privilege to help children at such a crucial developmental stage in their lives and I have no doubt the bus will bring smiles, fun and laughter wherever it goes.”
Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “It’s vital that everyone gets the educational support they need and living rurally shouldn’t be a barrier to accessing services. Giving children and young people equal access to tools like this incredible sensory bus is really important – it has so many benefits for their education and wellbeing.
“Linkage Community Trust’s sensory outreach project is a fantastic way to empower children with special educational needs. The sensory bus breaks down barriers to learning and plays an important role in helping them reach their full potential – we’re really proud to support this fantastic initiative.”
The ScottishPower Foundation's 2022 funding investment sees the charity hit the milestone of £10 million in funding grants it's given out since it was established in 2013.
Throughout the years, the Foundation has supported and championed projects across Britain which help advance education, environmental protection, the arts, culture, science and provide relief for those in need through poverty, disability or disadvantage.
It's planning a series of activities to celebrate the landmark funding figure throughout 2022.