The Sheiling Ringwood launches new sensory garden

A sensory garden to enhance outdoor facilities for students with special educational needs has opened at The Sheiling Ringwood thanks to donations from Talbot Village Trust and co-funders Wooden Spoon.

The school and college at The Sheiling Ringwood are set in a 45-acre sustainable and eco-friendly site and provide specialist education to students, aged six to 25, who have learning disabilities and complex needs. The sensory garden will provide a peaceful environment while stimulating and engaging the five senses – sound, touch, taste, smell and sight.

Corine van Barneveld, Principal of The Sheiling Ringwood, said: “Our dream was to create a space in a natural environment where students, and staff, can come for periods of time in between lessons or activities and find a moment to be still. We want our students to experience a sense of peace and wellbeing, so they can go back into the busyness of life and tasks awaiting them.”

Corine added: “Our goal to support our young people aligned closely with that of Talbot Village Trust’s mission to support and improve the lives of communities in east Dorset. We are hugely grateful to the Trust for recognising the potential in our students and, by giving so generously, enabling our learners to progress. Their support, in combination with our other donors, enabled us to achieve our dream to provide a dedicated tranquil space where students can explore the different senses to support their emotional wellbeing and take time out to quiet themselves so that they can re-join their classes and engage to a greater level.”
The sensory garden offers a tranquil haven for students and features raised planters with carefully selected shrubs, flowers and herbs, touching sculptures and water features as well as musical wind chimes and a walkway comprising of different textures such as brick, pebbles, grass and timber, and glass art which was created by Boris Moscoff, a former staff member and long-term friend of the Sheiling Ringwood. The garden also offers an opportunity for staff to incorporate mentoring on gardening skills such as planting and weeding.

Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, Chairman of Talbot Village Trust, said: “Sensory gardens create opportunities for students of all ages and abilities to engage with nature in a safe environment at a pace that suits them. It’s incredibly important to the Trust to support educational projects that support emotional wellbeing and offer a positive and engaging learning environment.”

He added: “Through specialist support and a therapeutic and nurturing environment, The Sheiling Ringwood enriches the lives of students with special education needs, and we’re pleased to support this important and transformative work.”

Talbot Village Trust donates up to £1million every year, supporting various causes to youth organisations, education groups and community-focused projects. The charity is encouraging further local causes to apply for funding ahead of its application deadline on July 31.

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