Pupils at Cedar Lodge School in Belfast are to benefit from a new BT-funded multi-sensory room which will give young people with disabilities the chance to dramatically enhance their learning experience in a stimulating new environment.

The school is the latest to benefit from a partnership between the Lord’s Taverners and BT, who have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds to create 25 special multi-sensory rooms across the UK over the last six years.

Cedar Lodge School caters for 216 students who have a range of learning and physical disabilities and associated difficulties, such as autism, communication problems and sensory impairment.

Multi-sensory rooms feature a relaxing and stimulating variety of lights, sounds and textures, which help children with physical and learning disabilities to engage in a learning environment that suits their educational needs.

The equipment helps children to develop communication and physical skills, build friendships and boost confidence. It can also improve children’s physical and mental health, help them develop emotional responses and improve basic numeracy and literacy skills.

Lois Little, Principal at Cedar Lodge School, said: “The new sensory room will enhance the educational provision for our pupils by enabling us to deliver purposeful sensory programmes within a multi-sensory environment. While beneficial in stimulating the senses to increase attention levels and involvement it can also promote well-being by reducing anxiety and sensory overload through encouraging relaxation.

“In addition to providing individual programmes, the multi-sensory equipment such as bubble tubes, fibre optics and the sound effect unit, will allow us to adopt a multi-sensory approach to learning and teaching. They will be used for planned sensory curricular activities by incorporating drama, stories and music linked to visual display themes such as “under the sea”, “outer space” and “our wonderful world”.

“We are very grateful to the Lord’s Taverners and BT for their generosity in donating this much needed facility and to the parents who contributed the installation costs. As a staff we look forward to enjoying many years of using this multi-sensory environment effectively and appropriately for the needs of all our pupils.”

BT’s partnership with the Lord’s Taverners will see multi-sensory equipment – such as lighting, sound effects, mirrors, bubble tubes, fibre optic multi-coloured strands, soft mattresses, music and aromatic oils – installed in at least 25 schools in the UK, supporting more than 18,000 young people with severe disabilities and communication difficulties across the UK.

BT has invested £25,000 in the development of the new sensory room at Cedar Lodge School.  This is the second school in Northern Ireland to receive a BT sensory room following the installation in Harberton School in Belfast.

Alex Crossan, Managing Director BT Northern Ireland Networks, said: “Our purpose as Northern Ireland’s leading communications service company is to use the power of communications to improve the world we operate in and to help young people achieve their potential. To that end, I am delighted that our partnership with the Lord’s Taverners continues to flourish, with today’s BT sensory room at Cedar Lodge School in Belfast opening another step on our journey to enhancing the lives of thousands of young people with disabilities.”

Paul Robin, Chief Executive of the Lord’s Taverners, added: “The Lord’s Taverners is dedicated to giving young people a sporting chance so we are delighted to work with BT to try and reach our goal of helping over 18,000 young people with disabilities across the UK by 2020. This new sensory room will benefit the teachers, carers and families of Cedar Lodge School’s students and enhance the learning experience and future development of its pupils.”