Calm­ing in­flu­ence

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JOSH JACK­MAN

A SEN­SORY room which will im­prove the ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren with spe­cial needs has been opened at the Her­shel Weiss Cen­tre in Sal­ford, serv­ing Manch­ester’s Strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity.

As well as calm­ing mu­sic and images, fea­tures of the room in­clude tac­tile balls and a car­pet which changes colour when, for ex­am­ple, chil­dren crawl on it. It is named in mem­ory of trustee Rochel Fein­gold, who taught Jewish his­tory to high-school pupils. Three gen­er­a­tions of her fam­ily are Her­shel Weiss users.

The re­source was six years in the plan­ningand­cen­tre­m­an­agerMichelleCif­fer was “on cloud nine” at its open­ing.

“It’s a dream I’ve been try­ing to achieve for a while,” she said. “We saw a lot of fam­i­lies who couldn’t bring their chil­dren any­where af­ter school. We wanted to pro­vide some­thing to them for free.”

The fa­cil­ity would en­hance learn­ing and calm chil­dren with “autism or men­tal-health is­sues which make them ag­i­tated”. She likened the re­lax­ing en­vi­ron­ment to “a spa with­out wa­ter”, adding that the cen­tre had been in­un­dated with re­quests about use, in­clud­ing one from a lo­cal home for the el­derly.

“A set of twins with cere­bral palsy and a five-year-old boy with autism have used it. Yes­ter­day we had a baby bal­let ses­sion and the young moth­ers said it was so calm­ing for them and their kids.” Plans are afoot to en­gage an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist.

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