BY HELEN RIDDELL
A NEW sensory garden at Eyeries National School is already proving to be popular with the pupils.
The garden, which is located within the school grounds was officially opened by Fr Danny Broderick and chair of the board of management Donal Harrington, and complements a sensory room which the school opened in 2016.
Eyeries National School, which has just over 100 pupils, constructed the sensory room in order to support pupils with high sensory needs, as well as being available to all pupils at the school.
The room offers a calm, safe and comfortable environment while also contributing to the educational experience and a space to relax and re-energise during the school day. It was planned at the time to also create a sensory garden that would complement the sensory room. Teacher Nicole O’Shea, explains that the project was entirely self-funded: ‘The school held a fundraising raffle last Christmas, and together with funding from the school board of management and contributions from the local community, we raised enough money for the garden.’
The garden was officially launched to coincide with the new school year in September.
The space engages all five of the senses. Flower beds have been planted with edible plants, musical chimes and a water feature fill the garden with sounds, there are textured walls and stones and colourful objects encourage children to explore the garden. One small section of the garden has been filled with fairy doors, which were made by children in 5th and 6th class.
Cian Murphy of 6th class said: ‘The sensory garden is the best thing in the school, you can talk with friends, and you can smell the flowers.’
The concept of sensory rooms began in the Netherlands in the 1970’s, with the initial idea being to deliver stimulation to the various senses, both to relax and calm, while at the same time, engaging or prompting the user to take notice of his or her surroundings. The main idea behind a sensory room is that the users are not told or shown what to do, but are encouraged to have a natural response to the environment. The facilities provided by the room and the new garden, provide a valuable support and teaching tool for children with additional needs, enabling stimulation, and communication and stress release.
School principal Jimmy Murphy and teachers extended thanks to all those contributed to the development of the sensory garden.