Over the past 6 years Swings & Smiles has grown quickly and increasingly we are finding that some of our existing play spaces aren't suitable for the needs of those that want to use them, specifically our sensory room and soft play area.

When we first moved into our centre in Thatcham we had to make our equipment fit the rooms available. We are now in the position to have more space and are planning to make some distinct sensory zones so that all children and young people can enjoy play in a place suitable for them.

We're raising funds on The Good Exchange, we're over half way there thanks to the recent success of the Greenham Trust Double Matched Day but further donations can be made to our project page. This funding will allow us to transform our building into an immersive sensory play centre, with two large sensory zones, an accessible kitchen space and an area for music and movement. We will also install a tracked hoist so that children can use all of the areas in the centre and aren't limited by their disability.

"The sensory room, as you know, is Toby’s absolute sanctuary. He gets so much pleasure from relaxing watching the bubble tube, he could spend hours there. He is always so much more relaxed and satisfied after spending time in the sensory room, his mood is more manageable and his sleep on those days is longer and deeper.”

Currently the sensory room isn’t big enough and a maximum of 2 children at a time can use the space. By creating additional areas we will be able to support a much larger number of children to enjoy the stimulation that the sensory equipment will provide. We also need to have more distinct cooking, music and art rooms for children who enjoy being creative in these ways so that they can be supported to access play and fun through these mediums.

“We are so grateful that we can access this wonderful sensory room that clearly helps my daughter enjoy life that little bit more. Having a larger area would greatly benefit all users because then more people could access the area, especially in these challenging times.”

In terms of accessibility we are also keen to improve how children can access all parts of the centre. Our current mobile hoist is fine but a more comprehensive tracking hoist system would be more appropriate for the numbers of children that need to use it, and would allow them to access parts of the centre that currently they can’t. It will help to bring them together with the larger group and create more opportunity for social inclusion.

“More recently I haven’t used the other equipment in there so much as this requires him to be sitting on the floor and I have found it increasingly difficult to lift him myself so the idea of a ceiling track hoist would be wonderful!”

If you'd like to help us with funding this project, we need as many donations as possible to our project page here