Learning will take a leap forward this year for Nambour Special School students who will be able to jump, climb, roll and fall in their specially equipped soft play “engine room”.
Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien said the project was one of 11 across his electorate, sharing in $200,000 worth of Local Schools Community Fund grants.
“Nambour Special School is receiving $17,500 from the Federal Government,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The funding will be used to create a dedicated soft-play sensory area, within Nambour Special School, with equipment like rollers, climbing and balancing mats, jumping areas and soft floor matting.
“It’s all about using physical resources to help students learn skills around self-managing their emotions, controlling their behaviour and focusing their attention for learning.
“It’s for the daily use of all students, but in particular should assist students with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder to have the best learning outcomes possible,” he said.
Principal Richard Fisher said the multi-functional area would help meet the different learning needs of individual students either by getting them active and fired up to learn, or by burning off energy and helping them calm down to learn.
“We call it an engine room so that’s ‘how is your body running’ and there’s certainly a strong research base around that. So it isn’t a classroom but a space with sensory tools and sensory equipment, which helps get students to a place that their bodies are ready for learning,” Mr Fisher explained.
“It comes with specific sort of training for our kids to develop independence in regulating their bodies and ideally it’s around the ability of those students to eventually do that independently,” he said.
“There’ll be equipment that the kids can climb through and climb over. There’ll be tight areas so things that squish. We’ve got a sensory roller so some kids might like the idea of being squished though something, because that does reduce stress and anxiety, and that allows them to regulate themselves a little bit more.
“There’ll certainly be things that will provide our students with an opportunity to be quite energetic with some quite robust equipment as well.”
Nambour Special School’s engine room is just one of 11 projects, in Mr O’Brien’s Fairfax electorate, sharing in $200,000 worth of funding grants.
Both Nambour State College and Burnside State High School have received $20,000 to upgrade outdoor playground and sporting facilities, while Nambour Christian College is getting $20,000 for an innovative recycling-bins project.
Coolum High School can now give its decades old performing arts block a $20,000 makeover, and Coolum State School receives just under $9,000 for sporting equipment.
Mountain Creek State High School and St Andrew’s Anglican College each receive more than $19,000 for their arts and environmental projects respectively.
Stella Maris Catholic Primary School is spending $16,000 renewing a washed out garden and playground area.
Kenilworth State Community College is getting an $18,000 ICT upgrade and Blackall Range Independent School will use its $18,750 to build a permanent yarning circle for school and community gatherings.