Nature offers diverse opportunities for experiences in each sensory area where a child has particular problems. We have found that for most children simply being-in nature has a positive effect on their mood and nervous system. Also, specific exercises and activities can help to stimulate or down-regulate particular senses helping the young person become more fluid in their responses in their everyday life.
Our sensory gymnasium will be a sensory wonderland of magical rope paths, stepping logs obstactle courses, musical grove of hanging instruments, maize trails, sensory swings, water play areas, quiet areas of open seating with a fire pit and 'The Cow Shed' - a craft area with relaxing indoor therapeutic space.
The Apricot Centre has been working with a team of local volunteers to create the sensory wonderland, and have been working hard to clear land, dam streams and weave fences to create the bare outline of the area and we are ready to start creating the magic...
With your help...
We are seeking funding for the hanging basket swing for The Outdoor Sensory Gymnasium, an example of which is below.
We would like to raise some money to help us design and build a basket shaped hanging swing with a flat floor, providing lots of potentially different sensory experiences all self contained. This type of equipment help to gives a child an opportunity to seek what they need or try out different experiences to find their own sensory needs with support from the therapist. The swing will be designed to swivel, hang from a fixed point in the trees. We would design and build the sensory swing with children and their families so that they are involved throughout the whole journey.
We are also going to create a safe and quiet craft area in our old cow shed. 'The Cow Shed' will provide young people a space to be calm, enjoy activities that require quiet and reflection. The money we raise will help our volunteer up-cycle our old cow shed into this much needed and valuable space.
Why it's a great idea...
For children and young people being outdoors and engaging in nature based play benefits the senses in so many ways, such as helping to orient their body's in space, enhancing their spatial awareness and balance systems in relation to the world around them.
Research shows other benefits include;
- Increased attention capacity and executive functioning skills
- Improvement in cardiovascular health
- Increases self awareness
- Improves self- esteem, confidence and mood
- Reduction in depression, anxiety and stress related symptoms
- Sense of peace, calm and relaxation
- Feelings of safety and security
-Increased social contact, inclusion and sense of belonging
“It really helped to do therapy outdoors instead of being in one small room. Whatever the weather it made me feel more cheerful. Just to wander around the orchard made me feel more open. When it is summer there are beautiful bees and flowers and in mid winter the frost lands on the trees. Trust me it is an excellent help being out in the open countryside.”
- Megan ~11 years
Volunteering at the farm has given me a sense of belonging and self worth. The farm work is physical and outdoors and as a result I feel a lot healthier and happier in myself. The Apricot Centre represents a place where I can feel safe, learn new skills and develop a sense of who I am.
- Volunteer ~ Teenager