Oakdale School is a school for children with Severe Learning Difficulties, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Disorder. We are the only primary school of its type in the borough of Tameside which is home to over 200,000 residents.
We are looking to fund the development of a sensory theatre for our children and families. We aim to be able to provide arts through stimulation for the senses, involving sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch.
By working with less conventional senses, we can try to circumvent the communication barriers normally associated with disability. These other senses are relevant to everyone but they are more salient to people with disabilities. Their imagination and their motivation to use language and engage with the world around them will be enhanced through the use of sensory theatre.
Parents of disabled children often struggle to find suitable activities for their families. Mainstream theatres and parks increasingly take disability on board but they have yet to realise that there’s more to it than making things accessible with wheelchair ramps!
With our sensory theatre we aim to encourage families from across the borough to
- Value and support the arts
- Encourage families to learn together
- Build intergenerational learning within the family nucleus
- Build parents self-esteem and confidence in exploring the arts
- Engage lifelong learning and encouraging quality of life
- Build aspirations for children and families
- Enable children with severe and life limiting disabilities to have fun, explore and give a feeling of travel and freedom
Sensory theatre is a way of capturing imaginations and focuses more on the atmosphere and expression of emotions through lights, sounds, textures, vibrations and smells. Imagine a storytelling workshop on a hot air balloon ride and suddenly it begins to rain, you feel it; the grass begins to glisten in the dew, you smell it. This form of storytelling allows children and young people of all abilities to belong to a creative process, to respond to it, to feel it and to be allowed a medium of responding with a deeper understanding.
We have the building capacity to create a sensory theatre but require funding for the equipment and computer software that will enable our children to take themselves anywhere they want to go, or do anything they desire. We aim for our sensory theatre to empower users and give them choice at the touch of a switch.
We hope to be able to offer the use of the facility to –
- Disability groups across the borough irrespective of age and ability
- Mainstream school groups ranging from nursery to primary year 6
- Local baby groups
- Local youth organisations