Watch: Delight as St Aidan's Kilmanagh unveil new sensory garden and classroom

A garden of tranquillity as St Aidan’s NS takes care of student wellbeing

Kilkenny People

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Kilkenny People

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

At the opening of the new sensory garden and outdoor classroom

There are celebrations in Kilmanagh National School with the completion of a new sensory room and garden following more than two years of hard work and fundraising.

It all began in the summer of 2018. A ‘Well Being Committee’ was set up, which came up with ideas of how to enrich the physical and social environment for children who might be challenged in any area. They came up with the idea of a sensory room and garden. Parents and teachers were supportive of the concept.

The committee set about raising funds by asking local businesses to make a donation. They also had fundraising events: A breakfast morning in the school, and a coffee morning in the Active Club of Hotel Kilkenny. Parents and Friends of St Aidan’s School were very supportive and generous.

After the renovation and reconstruction of the school in the spring and summer of 2018, There was a timber building — a seomra left vacant. By January 2019, this room was transformed into a sensory room which was designed to develop the children’s senses, through special lighting, music, and objects.

The sensory room has become many things: A quiet place in a busy school; a place where a child could have a chat with a teacher; a place where teachers could practice mindfulness with children; and a place where a child could take a break, and self-regulate their behaviour in order to improve focus.

In 2019 the Well-being Committee identified a part of the school garden which could be converted into a sensory garden. Earlier this year, they began the task of transforming a lawn into a place of calm and peace. It is now an enclosed area which is cosy and safe for children.

The garden features: Herbs to smell and taste, bright, colourful plants to feel and smell, bamboo grasses, a bench to sit on and relax, as well as listening to the wind chimes, drum, cymbals, boom whackers which, assist in making music and relieves stress; a water feature with a pump installed to facilitate running water trickling over a ceramic sphere; a sand pit and mud kitchen; and a mini library where students can take a book and read.

It also boasts an outdoor classroom which has an outdoor black board adorned with butterfly ornaments and benches for the children to sit on, and a very special sensory pathway which is constructed with artificial grass, bark mulch, beach pebbles, marbles, timber flat and curved.

The committee found the renovation of the garden to be a wonderful experience. Parents and children were actively involved in the renovation. It was amazing to discover the hidden talents of various people, including many who did not have children in the school, but wanted to make a contribution. The kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity of people is a special feeling of being supported, and that we were not alone in our dreams for our children. The children of St Aidan’s NS are very lucky to be part of a wonderful School and Community.

Many thanks to the amazing ‘Well-Being Committee’ comprising Kathleen Cahill, Una Dillon, Gary Bourke, Amy Bourke, Ann O’ Connor and Mary Ryan (who joined the committee this year) for all their hard work over the past two years in fundraising and working tirelessly to create a unique sensory garden, and a relaxing sensory room.

A special word of thanks to all the parents who gave freely of their time using their talents to paint, construct, and design many wonderful aspects of the garden.