Paces is a specialist centre in Sheffield for children and young adults with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders. The school meets the physical and cognitive needs of children which are often not met holistically elsewhere. Paces School currently supports 40 children every year. Up until now there has been no accessible outdoor play area on school grounds. As a result, the school’s long-term goal has been to develop an sensory play area that encourages all children to play and have fun together.
Costing £25,000, the project has been in development for three years with the views of children of all abilities, their parents and community groups from across the area central to the plans.
When the public were asked what they would like to see in the play area, the overwhelming response was for a play space that felt happy, relaxed, inclusive and welcoming to both children and parents with activities that were fun, interactive, sociable and stimulating.
Funding the Sensory Play Area
Charities, businesses and organisations from around the UK and Sheffield have been supportive financially for the project. These include Lord’s Taverners, Hallam FM Cash for Kids, The DM Thomas Foundation for Young People, the Tesco Bags of Help Initiative, the Co-Op Community Fund and Vito’s Italian Restaurant in Sheffield.
Aim’s of the Sensory Play Area
• Increase children’s confidence
• Improve social and communication skills
• Increase flexibility and fine and gross motor skills helping Paces school children to control balance and develop coordination skills
• Help increase longer term independence
• Increase physical activity for all children
• Encourage children of all abilities to play and have fun together (helping to break perceived barriers of disability)
• Encourage the involvement of parents and families in their children’s play
Sensory Play Area & The Public
During school hours the pupils at Paces School will primarily enjoy the inclusive play area. But, children from other providers of children’s services on Paces Campus and local community groups will also use the area. The aim of the project is to encourage both non-disabled children and children with physical, cognitive and sensory impairments to play and have fun together.
Official Opening of the Sensory Play Area
On Monday 11th September 2017, Paces celebrated the official opening of our inclusive play area. The opening event gave the school an opportunity to thank the many supporters of the project. In addition, Staff from Hilton Sheffield, Gemma Jolliffe Stacey Morris, Tyler Unwin and Marissa Maduro, were present to see the official cutting of the ribbon.
Overall, the parents and staff are overwhelmed by what has been achieved at the school. Physical activity is essential in ensuring continued mobility in Paces pupils with cerebral palsy. It is a central element in the physical educational programmes. Parents explain that having this opportunity to explore the play area will help their children achieve greatly increased physical function, such as sitting upright, walking and simple hand movements.