Dunshaughlin's Gaelscoil na Ríthe is preparing to start a major fundraising drive to build a multi-sensory room at the school.
Principal Rónán Mac Giolla Ruaidh explained that the school is currently in the process of applying for funding to replace their two prefabricated learning support rooms with a permanent structure. At the same time, they intend to build a multi-sensory room and garden but they will have to raise the money themselves, as the Department of Education doesn't fund it.
Gaelscoil na Ríthe opened in 1985 in a temporary prefabricated building with 38 pupils and moved to their permanent building in 1996. Over the last 32 years, over 1,000 students have passed through the school and there are currently 225 students from 140 families on the roll book. The prefabs where the learning support rooms are located are over 15 years old and Mr Mac Giolla Ruaidh explained they are leaking, hard to heat with mould in places, and are no longer fit for purpose. It is hoped the Department will fund bigger permanent rooms.
He added: "With the aim of creating a learning environment which will facilitate optimum inclusion we are also hoping to undertake the construction of a multi sensory room and garden. This room will help those most in need of assistance; those on the Autistic Spectrum, children with sensory needs and others with emotional and behavioural needs by providing a safe and stimulating environment."
Mr Mac Giolla Ruaidh explained that a multi sensory room is a specifically designed room which combines a range of stimuli to help individuals develop and engage their senses and that spent in a multi sensory environment has been shown to increase concentration, improve alertness and to improve creativity and general awareness of the surrounding world.
"Life in the world around us has become very busy and stressful. Children are surrounded by noise which puts many of them at risk of auditory bombardment and high stress. Our multi sensory room will provide students with a quiet space generating a relaxing and calming effect. The range of equipment in the room, we hope, will ensure that the senses are simultaneously stimulated and soothed.
"The construction of this multi sensory environment will greatly benefit existing and future pupils here in Gaelscoil na Rithe. Our aim is that the children who need it most will have access to it but also that all of our students have the opportunity to use it, in small and class groups on a weekly basis. Our hope is that the facility, in time would be of benefit to the community."
The target for the construction and fitting out of the multi-sensory room is €100,000 and they will be approaching large firms in the area for sponsorship and are also looking at doing other fundraising initiatives such as buy a brick and a golf classic amongst others.