I am Sarah McGinley, newly appointed Principal at St Joseph's Special School, Thomas hynes road, Newcastle, Galway.
It's a special school in many ways, not only do we have 70+ pupils with special needs attending the school, it is a place where families, friends and staff come together daily to encourage the rounded growth and development of these amazing pupils.
We boast the most up-to-date teacher led educational programs in class, facilitated by 16 +teachers and 26+SNAs alongside the most modern research being used to inspire and guide our team of multidisciplinary support staff from Ability West. There's 6 + other staff at school between the office, the nurse, the kitchen and maintenance team keeping us all organised and running the show backstage. We have a team of 18+ bright bubbly and dedicated bus escorts & drivers supporting our pupils during their daily commute. We have a number of volunteers who facilitate our swimming program. We welcome the Jes transition year students who have a huge impact on our fabulous pupils by supporting our swimming lessons and art classes as well as playing playground games with us. We have a parent body from 70+families who constantly remind us how grateful they are of our special school both during their child's attendance and afterwards when we welcome past pupils for our weekly school disco run by some of our past & present staff.
We have a large empty space as our playground and our 70+ pupils along with our fantastic staff team desperately need things to play with & explore during our break and lunchtime as well as to help us to support any pupils who benefit from movement breaks and outdoor based learning opportunities.
We have created a wishlist which includes:
Interactive play panels
Fun Mirrors (eg.concave / wobbly)
Something to sit in/on /play around (for example a mini train and carriage set)
Role play stations
Music making equipment
Sensory friendly/inviting equipment
Safe/inclusive type playing equipment
Wheelchair accessible equipment
We have researched what's available and there's endless possibilities if we can get funds organised..
I'm hoping that together we can make this happen and SOON!
Please donate absolutely anything you can,
If your not in a position to donate money, but have a skill that you can share please do make contact.
Playgrounds are so much more than a space for spending our free time.
A playground can be a place where young people have the freedom to develop their social skills, flexible thinking skills and gross motor skills without even realising it.
Movement activities can help to regulate the nervous system, allowing children to be better able to focus in class.
Figuring out how to navigate equipment in a playground can help with cognitive development.
Educational panel games can be used to reinforce concepts learned in class.
Learning to play on a playground with lots of other people around is a vital skill for many of our pupils, so that they can enjoy visiting playgrounds with their families outside of school.
The playground is a place that our pupils can work on their physiotherapy goals in a fun way by developing their core strength and body coordination skills.