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Community effort to build sensory waterfall for SEN pupils

Joint effort between University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), Cerebra charity and staff from two Swansea home improvement stores led to garden upgrade for local primary school.  

Dr Ross Head is Associate Professor of Product Design at UWTSD and leads the University’s Cerebra Innovation Centre, which designs and makes products to improve the lives of young people with special needs. Cerebra Innovation Centre is a collaboration between UWTSD and national charity Cerebra.

The project at Dunvant Primary School came about when UWTSD’s Cerebra Innovation Centre applied for a £1000 grant from the B&Q Foundation to work on a project that would benefit the community. Dr Head came up with the idea of a tactile sensory sculpture for special educational needs (SEN) pupils to engage and play with.

Choosing Dunvant Primary School in Swansea, Dr Head said he was glad to be able to “give something back” to the school his children attended, knowing it would be welcomed and appreciated by the staff and students there.

The sensory waterfall design consists of three layers. Water trickles from top to bottom through a series of spinning water wheels into lower level basins, with space for about ten small children to play, side by side, around it. It’s built out of wood to maintain a natural feel, with drawings and shapes on the outside to make it visually pleasing.

Dr Head and his team were joined by staff from B&Q Swansea and Valspar Paint, who used the opportunity to provide a community day for their staff, and the three teams worked collaboratively to make the whole area of the school grounds nicer.

B&Q provided all the materials to build the sculpture, and their staff gardened and cleared the school’s pond area while the Valspar paint team retouched and added colour to raised beds in the school’s garden.

Dr Ross Head said: “This project has been a fantastic and very successful community collaboration. It has highlighted the importance of civic outreach within our community, and shows that an enthusiastic team can achieve a huge amount in a short time. Seeing the children get more and more inquisitive and excited throughout the day was a real treat, and quite infectious! Everyone involved is keen to help again.”

Kerry Thomas, Headteacher of Dunvant Primary School said: “It’s been a pleasure to work alongside the UWTSD Cerebra Innovation Centre to develop the waterfall feature for the pupils, and to further develop our pond and orchard areas with the help of B&Q and Valspar staff.

“Outdoor learning is very beneficial to children of primary school age and we are always looking to develop the areas we have, but often lack the funding or resources to accomplish what we want. The teams have completed more work than we could have done as a school, and we are so grateful for their time and help. The children are already so excited to access and use the waterfall and pond area!”

Steve Winfield, Store Manager of B&Q Swansea said: “It’s great to be helping out at Dunvant Primary with the support of Cerebra. The whole team love putting their practical skills to use, and when it’s to support a good cause it’s even better.”