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Rotary's donations “will have a positive impact on the lives of many children at Newman School”.

Rotary's donations “will have a positive impact on the lives of many children at Newman School”.

Donations from funds raised by Rotherham Sitwell Rotary last Christmas have contributed to the recent purchase of special equipment to support pupils of Newman School, Rotherham. The equipment offers lights and sounds to create a multi-sensory environment and support the learning of children and young people with physical disabilities, medical needs and complex learning needs.

Every Christmas, the Rotarians of Rotherham Sitwell have stood outside Asda supermarket or walked miles of Rotherham’s streets to not only bring the Christmas spirit to children and families but also to collect for local charities. One of the charities to benefit from 2019’s collections is Newman School, East Bawtry Road, Whiston. Following discussions with Headteacher Paul Silvester, and the Chair of Friends of Newman School, Catherine Bridge, it was agreed that it was time to update the school’s sensory equipment.

Paul G Daniels of Rotherham Sitwell Rotary explained “We knew we could support Newman School but with the help of a matched Foundation grant from Rotary District 1220 we doubled our contribution from £2000 to £4000. It really is tremendous that through Rotary we make much more of a difference together than individually.”

Helena Musson of Newman School described how the equipment would be used now that it is in place. “Approximately 50-60 pupils, ranging from 3-18 years old, will be using the sensory room each week. Each one of those pupils will have at least one hour a week. The multi-sensory room will benefit children of all ages, with moderate to profound special needs. The room offers lights, sounds and a range of different equipment such as bubble tubes, play mats and an interactive rainbow ball, specifically designed to create a multi-sensory environment that’s fantastic for interaction, communication, learning and relaxation. The new sensory switch system allows children to interact with and influence the environment around them.”

Natalie West is one of the teachers of the children and young people already using the equipment. “The sensory room has been a fantastic new facility for our young people. It's a space they can go to alone or with their peers and enjoy. Our pupils can express themselves in ways that hasn't been possible before and develop their communication and interaction skills. Pupils are gaining experiences that haven't been available before, whether that be through sound, light or touch. This space provides a perfect area for pupils to relax and feel comfortable with their environment. It has helped with their development, experience and enjoyment.”

This isn’t the first time that Rotary has supported Newman School. In July 2017, Rotherham Sitwell Rotary joined forces with building contractors Fortem and Eurovia to more than double the funds raised by local marathon man Ray Matthews by building an Adventure Woodland Path at the school. Other support from Rotary was in July 2019, when Friends of Newman School were one of the supported charities at the Rotary-led Music in the Gardens.

“Just like the charities we help, donations probably won’t be as high in 2021 as in previous years” Paul continued. “Nevertheless, we are determined to do what we can within the limitations advised by the Government. Volunteer service is not only a feelgood calling, but also a way of making a significant difference to the lives of others. Hopefully, our work for Newman School will inspire others to join with us in future projects”

Paul G Daniels, Rotherham Sitwell Rotary. December 2020.