CML take on a “SensationALL” project

A team of volunteers from Aberdeen-based midstream infrastructure business CATS Management Limited (CML) have shown their ongoing commitment to local charity SensationALL by rolling up their sleeves for two days of DIY activities for the second year running.

SensationALL provides support and multi-sensory experiences for children and adults with disabilities and multiple support needs, their families and associated professionals. In 2016, the charity was successful in its application for a Community Asset Transfer from Aberdeenshire Council for the Old Schoolhouse building in Westhill and is now working towards transforming it into a purpose-built facility.

In 2017, CML funded the purchase and installation of a new summer house and was involved in painting, gardening and general maintenance. This year’s support included removing and replacing cupboards, painting the main activity room and upgrading the outdoor garden space. CML also donated £5,000 to cover the cost of new flooring and storage units.

Suz Strachan, operational lead and co-founder of SensationALL, said: “The support that we have received from CML is overwhelming. Their team are a dynamic bunch who power through maintenance tasks that our small team simply don’t have the time or resources to do. Their enthusiasm for what we do at SensationALL is fantastic and we love having them onsite.”

SensationALL is staffed by experienced specialist practitioners who deliver therapeutic sensory based activities that promote early intervention for individuals with support needs such as autism as well as those with learning disabilities and neurodevelopmental conditions.

Suz Strachan added: “This year we are particularly excited that in addition to all the internal work, CML have helped us upcycle some items donated by the AWPR. The new seating area will be used for outdoor learning as it enables us to take groups outside and utilise the sights, sounds and smells of our garden as a sensory experience.”

Andy Hessell, managing director of CML, said: “As a small, independent charity, SensationALL relies on companies like CML to help it achieve its goal of creating a safe, stimulating and practical environment for the people they support. We have seen first-hand the positive difference SensationALL has on individuals, their families and the local community, and are delighted to continue to support Suz and her inspirational team.”

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SensationALL welcome new faces to the team

More than halfway through the year and our SensationALL team have been busier than ever ! As well as being the gold charity sponsors at Run Balmoral in April, supporting our runners in the Baker 10k in May and being the charity partners for the Westhill 10k in June; we also had a stall at the Westhill Gala, Aberdeen Highland Games and the Westhill 10k. We have hosted our annual Tipsy Tea Party, ran a very successful April holiday events programme, launched our summer events programme and opened our newly refurbished and super fancy sensory room! To add to that list we have had Subsea 7 and M&S Westhill in the Old Schoolhouse giving the walls, garden and rooms a much needed make over.

As we approach the summer months and our school holiday programme of events, we are also delighted to welcome some new faces to the team! Gemma Ross joined the Services team as Services Practitioner, alongside Rebekah Moorhouse as Support Worker and Lisa Grainger as Volunteer Co-ordinator.

Talking about the new team members and the work SensationALL is doing at the moment, Suz Strachan, Team Lead, says: “We continue to adapt and make great developments in widening our team and our services. Building our team will help to strengthen our efforts going forward and give us a wider skill set to support our families living with children and adults with support needs.” 

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APACHE OPEN STATE-OF-THE-ART SENSORY ROOM IN SENSATIONALL

On the back of the Apache North Sea Limited donation to SensationALL, the local charity has reopened the newly refurbished Sensory Room!

As part of Apache’s Corporate Outreach Programme, the Kingswells-based company awarded the charity £30,000 and the donation went towards the renovation and repurposing of the Sensory room, transforming the old Sensory room into a state-of-art interactive space, with a higher specification and bespoke design around the user-needs.

The room was closed for almost a two week period whilst the redevelopment project was underway.

Suz Strachan, SensationALL Operational Team Lead, talks us through the transition of the Sensory Room and what the donation and new space means to the users : “we’ve managed for a number of years with second hand goods and a makeshift set up, starting off by revamping a cleaning cupboard in rented premises in 2012!”

Suz continues: “We now have more opportunities for users to control their environment; to use switches, self generating noise and Bluetooth technology to do so. We use this in combination with low tech resources and utilise the environment to engage in learning, offer choices and use an intensive interactive approach to promote optimal communication with all our users. The upgrading of our room brings us one step closer to achieving an inclusive flagship facility, with a community focus and reflects the specialist sensory based services that we provide.”

SensationALL evolved from the closure of the Raeden Centre (a facility for children with complex needs in Aberdeen) in the Summer of 2011 and the team originally rented facilities in Lawsondale where they ran family support sessions and hosted play sessions in the soft play centre; they became a registered Scottish charity in 2012.

In 2016, the team acquired the Old School and Schoolhouse building to transform into a purpose-built facility for the provision of specialist services and therapeutic activities for MSN users, as well as community facilities, including an out of school club and rooms available to community groups and local businesses.

The donation from Apache has enabled SensationALL to widen the benefits of use to more of their service users and takes the charity one step closer to their dream.

Patricia Paterson, Executive Assistant at Apache, opened the new Sensory Room and said: “I am absolutely delighted with the transformation of the old sensory room into a state of the interactive multi-purpose room!  Apache are privileged to have been able to make a difference in improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities”

You can view the clip of the Sensory Room renovation project here! #SensationALL

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Are you SensationALL?

SensationALL is a small charity with big ideas and we are growing… which gives us the opportunity to add to our team!

We are currently recruiting for the following posts, based at the Old Schoolhouse, Westhill:

  • Service Practitioner
  • Sessional Support Worker

The successful candidates will be joining a dynamic, innovative and friendly team who provide support, advice and training in the field of multiple support needs (MSN) for people of all ages. You will work in a supportive environment, where you will be encouraged to bring new ideas to the table and put them into practice and watch things grow!

The Service Practitioner will be degree level qualified in a relevant field (Occupational / Speech Therapy,  Psychology, Teaching or similar) and will have a professional registration, such as HCPC, GTLS or SSSC. They will have some experience of working with children or adults with a disability and be able to evidence an appreciation of complex needs. They will have strong team skills; will enjoy researching and developing new ideas and will work towards leading some of our MSN sessions.

A detailed job description and person specification is available via email.

The Sessional Support Worker will have experience in working with young people and or adults with support needs and hold a qualification in that field or be willing to work towards one. They will have experience of leading small groups and activities and show an understanding and appreciation of MSN. Experience of working with volunteers is desirable but not essential.

A detailed job description and person specification is available via email.

These posts are offered on a temporary basis with the aim of making them permanent; selection will be based on CV review, with successful candidates being invited to interview and a relevant practical skills test. Interviews are likely to be held during the week commencing 2nd April 2018.

Read more about SensationALL here and see how full services here, you can also see 

To apply for either of the positions, please email a CV with covering letter to info@sensationall.org.uk by 30th March. #SensationALL

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Sensory Playgroup Round Up

Our first Sensory Playgroup of 2018 is done and dusted! This is a relatively new group for SensationALL and ran once towards the end of 2017. This session ran on Thursday mornings for a 4-week block and was fully booked within weeks of being announced! The next session for term 1 starts on 01st March and runs on a Thursday from 1pm – 2pm (01 March to 22nd March).

The Sensory Playgroup is held in the Old Schoolhouse and run by experienced practitioners. Each week is themed and the group spend time in our soft play room and the sensory room too.

In this recent block we followed four themes:

  1. Transport
  2. Farm Yard
  3. Monsters
  4. Rainbow

Each week we had different sensory trays exploring textures, smells and surfaces that related to the theme. We also had a sensory story for each theme and ended the sessions with a period of relaxation for the children, this usually took place in our Sensory Room or the soft play room.

Here’s what some of the parents and carers had to say about out recent Sensory Playgroup:                                                                                                                                                                                                          

“…I feel that as they [SensationALL service practitioners] use Makaton it helps enforce using it and it’s the only group we’ve been to that uses it.”

“…I don’t feel like my child is the ‘odd’ one out at this group, it’s more inclusive and not judging.”

“It’s a chance to meet other parents.”

“…useful to guide and play with him at home.”

“The ideas and knowledge of the staff are great strengths of the group.”

“The group is very relaxed and accepting. Positive and progressive approach for the child.”

We had amazing feedback from our parents and carers and the children enjoyed exploring the different sensory experiences available to them. We can’t wait to start the next block!  

To sign up for the next block of Sensory Playgroup (01 March to 22 March from 1pm to 2pm), please email info@sensationall.org.uk or telephone 01224 746699 #SensationALL

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Stay-and-Play at SensationALL

The SensationALL team have been running stay-and-play sessions since November 2011. The play sessions take place in the Old School House, Westhill, and run twice a month on alternating Sunday’s, families book a time slot and “stay and play” for an hour, our qualified Service Practitioners are on hand too.

First Term 2018 Stay-and-Play dates:-

  1. Sunday, 03rd June
  2. Sunday, 17th June
  3. Sunday, 01st July

The Old Schoolhouse has a soft play area, a sensory room and a coffee lounge area, all-inclusive is the driving force behind our charity and we welcome ASN (additional sensory needs) children and their siblings to our play sessions.

Stay-and-play sessions cater for both families based in Aberdeen City and Shire, but also for those on holiday in the North East or travelling through. Play is vital for child development and soft play is a great environment for children to develop motor skills, particularly those gross motor skills such as jumping, spinning and running.

The sessions give children with MSN (multi sensory needs) the opportunity to to be stimulated and explore their surroundings in a safe and friendly environment with experienced and knowledgeable Service Practitioners. It is also a great chance to meet other parents/carers and for siblings to join in the fun too!

SensationALL Services Practitioner, Mhairi says: “giving a child with MSN regular visits to a sensory environment such as SensationALL’s safe sensory room where they can be supported by experienced staff and attending the stay-and-play sessions in the Old Schoolhouse can help stimulate senses, help children relax and explore new experiences and build sensory tolerances”.

Email info@sensationall.org.uk  or contact 01224 746699 to book a stay-and-play session. #SensationALL

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DIY sensory play activities

After a busy few months in the SensationALL Old Schoolhouse, including the summer and October holiday programmes and our new group, Sensory Playgroup; the services team have put together a collection of some of our most successful sensory play ideas. How do we measure the success of our sensory play ideas? By the feedback and experience on the day of the children with additional and multiple support needs and their parents and or carers who are on site!  

Play is an important way for children to spend their time, not only is it fun, but it gives the child(ren) plenty of opportunities to learn-through-play about the world around them. Children start off by exploring the world through their senses – enjoying how things look, feel and even taste. Sensory play is a way for children to explore all of their senses and build up a tolerance for different sensory experiences and the environment around them; it also helps support language and communication development, social interaction, problem solving and fine and gross motor skills.

Children who have multiple support needs (MSN) may have more specific difficulties with some sensory sensations and this can sometimes result in challenging reactions. Children with multiple sensory needs require more tailored learning experiences, like sensory play activities, to help them makes sense of these experiences and build up tolerances to different sensory stimulation.

Sensory play is not only about touch but also taste, smell and colour; here’s some DIY sensory play activities that the services team at SensationALL used recently that utilise all the senses.

  A rainbow rice tray, we used this play activity for a weather-themed session at our Sensory playgroup. You will need:

  • 1kg uncooked rice
  • Food colouring (yellow, green, blue and pink)
  • Zip lock bags

Method: separate your rice evenly into four zip lock bags, then add the different food colourings to each bag of rice. Add about a teaspoon of colouring to each bag to begin with and mix together with a spoon. Add more food colouring accordingingly. Once evenly coated you should be left with four different coloured bags of rice. Leave these to dry overnight with the zip lock open. Your rice should be dry the next day and ready to assemble into your sensory rainbow rice tray! Arrange the rice into four sections, with the separate colours, then watch them all mix together as they are played with.

The Under-the-Sea Jelly Tray was used during one of our themed-weeks during our recent Sensory playgroup programme. You will need:

  • 4 packs of gelatin (each pack should have 4 gelatin leaves in it)
  • Blue food colouring
  • Assorted ‘under-the-sea’ themed toys

Method: According to the packet instructions, separate your gelatin into individual leaves and add boiling water to it. The ratio should be around 1 pint of water to 1 leaf of gelatin. Do this individually for each leaf of gelatin, stirring the gelatin into the water until it dissolves completely, then add each pint of water/gelatin mix into your tray. Once your tray is three quarters of the way full, add a few drops of the blue food colouring to the water/gelatin mix and mix in until you get the desired shade of blue. Next you can add your ‘under-the-sea’ themed toys to the tray, positioning some of them so they stick out a bit of the water/gelatin mix. We used some sea animal bath toys, penguin toys and boats for our tray but you can use anything that you think may be a good addition! Leave the tray on a level surface or in your fridge to set overnight and by the next day the jelly will have set and the Under-the-Sea jelly tray will be ready to use!

The Sensory Ice Tray was used during one of our Sensory playgroup sessions and we put the coloured and flavoured ice cubes into a water tray to allow the children to safely explore touch, taste and temperature. The ice cubes can also be used to “paint” onto paper, for a fun sensory drawing activity. You will need:

  • Four ice cube trays
  • Food colouring (red, green, yellow and blue)
  • Teabags (Red Berry, Peppermint and Lemon and Ginger)

Method: Brew three mugs of tea, one with a red berry tea bag, one with a peppermint tea bag and one with a lemon and ginger tea bag. Leave the tea bags to brew for around 10 minutes, then remove the tea bags and add a couple drops of the corresponding food colouring to the individual mugs (red for the red berry, green for peppermint and yellow for lemon and ginger) until you get a strong colour for each one. Take three of your ice cube trays and fill them up with the tea you have brewed. For the fourth tray, add a few drops of blue food colouring to a mug of cold water then stir so the food colouring is evenly distributed and pour the blue liquid into the fourth ice cube tray (this tray will be unscented to allow children that are more sensitive to smell to still have an enjoyable sensory experience). Put all four ice cube trays into the freezer overnight then take them out the next day ready to use.

The next SensationALL sensory play group session will start in 2018, as well as our Chill-OOT programme and Early Communications Group. Email info@sensationall.org.uk for more information about these or any of our other groups and workshops. #SensationALL

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