Big tick of approval for Fairy Meadow Demonstration School's Sensory Garden

The smile on her face gave it away.

 But it was the effort required to get Lara Ashe to stop playing in the Sensory Garden and pose for a photo which confirmed the play area at Fairy Meadow Demonstration School was indeed her ‘’favourite place in the world’’.

‘’She just loves it. It gives her so much joy,’’ mother Hayley Ashe said.

IMB Bank Community Foundation funding helped the school build the Sensory Garden, primarily for its students with mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities.

But the school’s support unit assistant principal Sue Swindells, said the Sensory Garden was not just used for the pupils in the special education unit.

‘’At times, other students from the school play there as well facilitating important socialisation for everyone,’’ she said.

PLAY TIME: Hayley and Lara Ashe play at Fairy Meadow Demonstration School's new Sensory Garden. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

PLAY TIME: Hayley and Lara Ashe play at Fairy Meadow Demonstration School's new Sensory Garden. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

Ms Swindells said the Sensory Garden provided unique fine and gross motor and sensory activities and experiences with specialised equipment and, when completed, will also include a garden with aromatic plants and flowers.

At the moment students can use the slippery dip, tunnel, trampoline, hammock swing, a creek bed and timber bridge and a bike track around the garden.

‘’Being able to go outdoors and interact with play equipment, as well as learn about plants and flowers when they are planted, has added another dimension to what we can provide our students,’’ she said. 

She found it difficult coping with the hustle and bustle of the big playground but the Sensory Garden is perfect.

Hayley Ashe

Mrs Ashe added the garden had been ‘’wonderful’’ for her 11-year-old daughter Lara, who has cerebral palsy and global development delay.

‘’I think she feels safer in the environment because it is smaller and less intimidating for her,’’ she said.

‘’She found it difficult coping with the hustle and bustle of the big playground but the Sensory Garden is perfect. She is also learning how to play on new equipment, which is giving her additional skills and more confidence.’’

Fairy Meadow Demonstration School was one of 50 recipients in the 2017 round of funding by IMB Bank Community Foundation.

IMB Bank CEO Robert Ryan urged community groups, not-for- profit organisations and charities to put in an application for 2018.

‘’There are many incredible groups in our local area that do so much good for other people. We are always interested to hear about new projects, particularly those that need seed funding to start or projects already in operation that are looking to expand,’’ Mr Ryan said.

The Community Foundation, which is in its 19th year, has supported more than 600 projects.

To apply for 2018 funding visit www.imb.com.au/communityfoundation.

Applications close on February 9.