Officer Specialist School – The New Sensory Room

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The $28,000 cheque will be put towards a new sensory room at Officer Specialist School. At the presentation are Principal Sue Campbell, Douglas Baxter, Dr. George Streitberg and Peter.

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Picture: Kyra Gillespie

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Officer Specialist School is now $28,000 closer to its goal of having a sensory room thanks to the generosity of the Freemasons Foundation Victoria.

A sensory room is a therapeutic space with a variety of equipment that provides students with special needs with personalised sensory input. These rooms help children focus themselves to be better prepared for learning and interacting with others.

Officer Specialist School Assistant Principal Helene Rowe said the school had been waiting for this for more than four years.

“We’ve wanted to set up a sensory room ever since we started but we simply haven’t been able to get the funds.

“This will make a huge difference in the lives of these kids.

“It will provide a space away from the classroom that will attend directly to the child’s individual needs.”

Sensory rooms were originally designed primarily for children with autism, but over time have expanded to support all students, including those with vision difficulties, language difficulties, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, and any student who needs a safe, quiet room to focus their attention.

“The room will have everything from aromatherapy to music therapy, incorporating light, sound, smell and touch to help children manage themselves,” Principal Sue Campbell said. “It will be tactile and will engage all the senses.”

“It will work differently for different kids; for some it might act as a way to keep them calm and regulated, and for others it may be a space to engage the child before the learning starts.”

The school are trying everything they can to engage all students.

“Here we have to be lateral thinkers – we don’t teach traditionally because it doesn’t work for these kids.

“We’re still quite a young school so we have a lot of room to develop and grow.

“It can certainly be a tough gig here.”

The large donation was only made possible by Berwick Balcara Lodge.

“When the school indicated that they needed a sensory room but that it was going to cost around $30,000 I knew we couldn’t raise that,” Berwick Balcara Lodge Secretary Peter Weeding said.

“So we pitched it to the Freemasons Foundation in Victoria and succeeded that way.”

Freemasons Victoria Deputy Chairman Dr George Streitberg said the Freemasons have a focus on supporting young people.

“We love to support the young people within the community,” Dr Streitberg said

“Officer is expanding more and more each year, with more young families moving in all the time.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to make a difference in the community.”

Story by Kyra Gillespie