The Special Needs Unit which is based at Our Lady of Mercy National School in Bantry, is holding an open day on Saturday the 10th December from 12.00 – 4.00pm. Everyone is welcome to attend. For more information please call 027-50590.
|The Entrance to the Special Needs Unit.|
|The soft-play ball room.|
|A section of a bright, busy classroom at the Special Needs Unit|
The Unit is staffed by two Special Class teachers who are supported by Resource and Learning Support teachers and Special Needs Assistants. Interactive white boards, adjustable computer tables, iPads and purpose-designed software including Boardmaker all ensure that each child is offered simulation and encouragement in a well-rounded educational manner. All Teachers and assistants are highly qualified and regularly attend relevant training in areas such as the TEACCH approach and the PECS communication system (Picture Exchange Communication System). The children attending the Special Needs Unit also benefit from the expertise of CoAction professionals who provide speech and language therapists as well as occupational and physiotherapists. The children also have regular contact with designated HSE school nurses as well as psychology services.
|The landscaped Garden at the Front of the building.|
The Special Needs Unit also has an on-site sensory room and soft-play room. The sensory room has a selection of projectors, rope lights, mirrors, bubble tubes and sound-light panel. Coupled with relaxing music and an array of comfortable seating options, the sensory room is an incredibly relaxing and soothing area which is extremely beneficial to all who avail of it. The soft-play room is a bright, engaging room which consists of an indoor padded trampoline, wedges, a large ball-pool and a range of free standing soft exercise equipment.
|A section of the sensory room.|
The students of the Special Needs Unit benefit from regular visitors from members of the West Cork Arts Centre, musicians and art therapists. The students also avail of swimming sessions at the Westlodge Leisure Centre where they follow specific programmes which have been devised by physiotherapists. There is a lot of integration with peers from the mainstream school and a ‘circle of friends’ programme has been established. Many classes in music and art are shared with mainstream classes and participation in whole-school events such as the Saint Patricks day Parade, Town Sports Day, Advent Spiral and Halloween Party are both beneficial and actively encouraged.
|An example of art work done at the Special Needs Unit – this wonderful picture was done in conjunction with the Sherkin Island Marine Station.|
At the Special Needs Unit, each child’s needs are met and each child is helped to achieve their full potential. Life Skills are also taught which include weekly lunch planning sessions. The planning is followed by practical shopping trips to the square and involvement in the daily preparation of the meals. Students are encouraged to enter local competitions in art and writing and have done extremely well in events such as the Sherkin Island Environmental Awareness campaign, the Bantry Agricultural Show and the Credit Union competition to name but a few.
|A section of the fabulous kitchen facility.|
The Special Needs Unit at our Lady of Mercy National School in Bantry is a bright, cheerful and welcoming facility. Carefully designed and purpose-built, the Special Needs Unit caters for children from as young as 4 years of age up to the age of 18. Children attending the unit have a varied range of intellectual and physical disabilities including Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Down’s Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. The Unit comprises of 2 classrooms (each of which have an inbuilt, private one-to-one room), a fully equipped and spacious kitchen, shower rooms, toilets and changing facilities. There is a lovely southerly aspect to the building and natural light floods the rooms enhancing the happy ambience and highlighting the students beautiful artwork which decorates the walls.