Variety Set Sights On Sensory Pool For Jersey

Wednesday 30 March 10:59

Variety - the Children’s Charity of Jersey have embarked on an ambitious fundraising mission to build a sensory pool at Oakwell Short Break Centre in St Brelade. The pool will benefit Jersey’s children with additional needs and their families.

The project intends to transform the existing Oakwell Hydrotherapy Pool into a full sensory environment. The target is to raise £25,000 for the equipment and a further £25,000 for its upkeep. The charity is calling on the generosity of Islander’s to help them reach the total.

The Jersey sensory pool project is the chosen beneficiary of the Variety World Conference, which will be held in Jersey for the first time this year. The conference will see over 200 delegates, celebrities and charity stalwarts from 13 countries come to Jersey in April. The conference will provide many fundraising opportunities, none more so than the Gala Dinner which will be held at the RJAHS on Saturday 30th April.

Oakwell is a short break facility, run by the Health and Social Services Department, specialising in personalised short breaks for children and young people with a range of additional needs, to include intellectual disability, physical disability, sensory impairments or complex health care needs. The Centre has long been a beneficiary of Variety Jersey; Oakwell was first acquired and refurbished by the charity in 1987. It was then donated to the States of Jersey with the proviso that the building was used to support children with additional needs. Over the years Variety - the Children’s Charity of Jersey have continued to fundraise for the centre delivering a wheelchair-friendly garden, two further bedrooms and the hydrotherapy pool.

The pool is one of the few places that children and young adults can be free of support systems, braces and wheelchairs. The sensation of floating in warm water is liberating and can be used for relaxation, delivering therapy or for stimulation and exercise. The addition of all the sensory equipment such as sound systems, interactive LED lighting and effects projectors would enhance the experience and provide an interactive environment to educate too. The equipment for the pool will be provided by SpaceKraft; the company are leaders in providing sensory solutions for special needs.

Currently Oakwell supports 14 children who can all access the pool. The pool is also used by an early years playgroup, individual families who book sessions with their child and by young adults with physical disabilities. It’s hoped that the sensory additions will make the pool a resource that will attract a wider array of children and young people with additional needs.

Joanne Cowen, Short Breaks Service Lead, Oakwell Centre, says:

‘Specialist facilities such as a pool, sensory activities and adapted bedrooms are features which help to give the children who use Oakwell an amazing experience. Our staff want to provide the very best care and activities for this group, and generous fund raising from charities such as Variety goes a long way to help us meet this goal. We are very grateful and thank everyone involved for their amazing efforts and generosity and thinking of Oakwell. Our current pool is one of our most popular assets and the benefits of it are well loved by the children and the families alike. To be able to provide the children with a sensory pool would be an amazing boost.’

Robyn Lapidus, Chief Barker, Variety - the Children’s Charity of Jersey, says:

‘The sensory pool would mean a great deal to the children and families who see Oakwell Centre as an essential resource. We are proud at Variety – The Children’s Charity of Jersey to have supported Oakwell over so many years and we are very pleased that during the Variety World Conference we’ll be able to share that story with our visiting Tents from around the world. We hope everyone will get behind us and help us reach our fundraising targets. You can donate online: www.varietyjersey.org.je or via post to: Variety - the Children's Charity of Jersey, Maufant Variety Youth Centre, Grand Route de St Martin, St Saviour, Jersey, JE2 7GT.’

Tickets for the Variety Gala Dinner are also now on sale. Please email admin@varietyjersey.org.je for more details. 

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