A new state-of-the-art piece of equipment is helping Roddensvale pupils with complex medical needs to access sensory experiences safely.
The £5,400 Acheeva Learning Station (Graduate) recently arrived at the school, and young people are already benefiting from its use in the classroom.
The cost of the learning station was covered by a number of charity events.
Roddensvale Principal Mr John Madden told the Times: “The Acheeva allows us to position young people who have very complex medical needs so they are comfortable and abe to attend opportunities to learn, for example if they are in a controlled audio-visual area and we want them to track the lights or objects.
“It is an orthopoedic bed that we can move, for example to sit them up, let them lie sideways using wedges, or use straps so they don’t fall off the bed.
“It is on wheels so they can be moved to activities or sensory opportunites, they can even be wheeled down the corridor in this bed.
“It’s a fantastic resource for our pupils with the most complex needs.
“They are not able to go to the world so we need to bring the world to them.”
The learning station can also be used to allow pupils to rest, or to receive treatment such as aromatherapy in a comfortable, protected environment.
Mr Madden says that the new piece of equimpment also benefits teachers.
“It’s not as difficult to move the young people about,” he continued.
“There aren’t the same lifting and winching issues, you don’t have to lift and position them, the bed will move.
“There are electric switches and positions built into the bed, there is a massive range of options.
“A lot of our young people would be peg fed with a tube attached into their tummy and the Acheeva gives the opportunity to do that without having to reposition them or to interrupt them if they are doing something they enjoy.
“Some young people have epilepsy, and if they take a seizure on the bed they are completely safe.
“The bed also allows emergency medication to be delivered if required.”
Mr Madden says that purchasing the new Acheeva would not have been possible without the generosity of local fundraisers.
Money was raised through a sportive by Ballycastle Cycling Club,and through the Traction Engine Club of Ulster’s visit to view vintage tractors belonging to Steve Robinson and family.
AES Kilroot and SQS Belfast also donated, and Mr Madden even set a new Irish Masters record for his age class by cycling over 45km in one hour during fundraising.
“The generosity of these individuals and companies has been overwhelming and we are so grateful to all who donated and supported the events to raise money,” said Mr Madden.
“We have also cut the first sod for our hydrotherapy pool, which we hope will be finished in the Autumn and will make a huge difference for our pupils, and we may be getting a new music room in the school.”