A Cork school is seeking to raise €25,000 to construct a sensory garden for its students on the Autism Spectrum.
St Mary’s on the Hill National School in Knocknaheeny opened an ASD classroom in September of this year to cater for six children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the area.
The school has already gotten the green light from the Department of Education to revamp the classrooms to provide state-of-the-art ASD facilities indoors, and principal Ger O’Donovan, said they are keen to do the same outdoors. “Schools can be busy places and children on the ASD spectrum can become overstimulated in the hustle and bustle so this garden would be an important place for them to calm and de-stress,” he said.
“Studies have shown the hugely positive impact these gardens can have on children.
“With this goal in mind, we set about setting up the concert to fund this,” he added.
The new ASD classroom and its six students have had had a positive impact on the school already, Mr O’Donovan explained.
“We noticed a need in the area for such a class and we decided to meet that need,” he said. “The class is called Tir na nOg and from our perspective, they’re certainly our little stars. They’re full of energy and fabulous children and a great addition to our school.”
“They came to the school through our early start programme so to facilitate them to continue their education within their local school is fantastic.
“They get to stay with their siblings and their parents might also be past pupils of the school so it’s great to be able to give this to the community.” The school will host a jam-packed ‘Songs for the Senses’ concert on Thursday, November 29 at the Rochestown Park Hotel to raise funds for the garden.
A host of well known Cork musicians, including the White Horse Guitar Club, Karl Nesbitt & Company and Peadar O’Riada, will play for free on the night.
Mr O’Donovan said the school has been bowled over by the support.
“They’ve all given their time and their musical ability for free which is hugely appreciated,” he said. “All proceeds will go directly to the sensory garden.”
“The support has been fantastic.” With demand for ASD classes evident, Mr O’Donovan said the importance of the new class and a sensory garden cannot be overstated.
“After all the inquiries we had, we could have filled three classes this year but we only have the capacity for one,” he revealed.
“We want to get this class and its facilities up and running and then hopefully, look to expand in the future.”
- Tickets cost €25 and are on sale in the school or available at Eventbrite.ie.