Harry is one of the many children cared for by Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice. Chestnut Tree House cares for children and young adults from 0-19 years of age with progressive life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses from all over the county. The children who visit Chestnut Tree House have very complex health needs meaning that the vast majority require the use of a wheelchair at all times and may have difficulty in communicating through speech, have a hearing impairment or be visually impaired. Very often they have a combination of conditions that makes “normal” interaction impossible.
This year Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation supported Chestnut Tree House by giving them a grant to pay for 200 sessions in their Multi-Sensory Room.
The Multi-Sensory Room provides the children with somewhere to relax away from the confines of their wheelchair, whilst enjoying the range of sensory equipment available to them. Harry loves music and movement, in the sensory room he has the option of having any kind of music to move or chill out to and the soft mats surround the walls and the floor support full expression without leaving him at risk.
Having a safe space to explore and move has also helped Harry to learn to interact with others and really focus on the other person, or concentrate on the toy he is playing with. On the ceiling there are fibre optic lights which stimulate Harry’s sense of sight, Harry sometimes enjoys lying back and just watching as the colours change shade slowly. The water bed in the middle of the sensory area is heated and again Harry finds this a relaxing place to quietly watch as colours change shade in the bubble tubes. Chestnut House Hospice also have interactive story times in the sensory room which Harry has enjoys with the addition of playing a selection of instruments from the music room.
The sessions that Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation provided have allowed hundreds of children to benefit from this wonderful experience. Harry has been through many challenging experiences in his short life which have not been pleasant. Having a space at the hospice where he can feel safe and relaxed like this can really help him to maintain his ability to trust his environment enough to explore and play, which will support his self confidence and development.
*Harry’s name has been changed to protect his identity