THE doors to Knockevin Special School in Downpatrick were opened to the public at the weekend for a special event to showcase the wares of the ambitious Sparkle Project.
A new sensory room and garden, cycle tracks and enhancements to a therapeutic hydrotherapy pool were among the facilities on display to visitors on Saturday.
They are now available to pupils of the school, which caters for children with severe and profound learning difficulties.
The investment was made possible through the one-year fundraising Sparkle Project through which members of the school’s Parents and Staff Association raised £100,000 for essential equipment for Knockevin’s Downpatrick campus and its Early Years Centre in Dundrum.
The project was launched in 2015 with the intention of raising £50,000 for equipment, including communication resources and play materials.
However, organisers soon realised they could increase their target thanks to the widespread support for their fundraisers, which included bag packs, a 10k sponsored run, a cinema night and raffles, and culminated in a gala ball in the Titanic Centre in Belfast.
The Big Lottery Fund also contributed £10,000 towards the project, with a further £5,000 from the True Colours Trust.
With work to the school now complete, the doors to the Downpatrick unit were opened on Saturday so supporters of the campaign and parents associated with the school could see the fruits of their fundraising.
The school’s vice-principal, Sarah Liddell, said staff and management of the school were delighted with the results.
“With a lot of hard work, dedication and a touch of sparkle, Knockevin School doubled its fundraising target and raised a whopping £100,000 for much-needed sensory equipment,” she said.
“This money has now been spent on refurbishing our main sensory room, creating a second sensory room and adding interactive sensory equipment to our hydro-pool.
“We have also been able to purchase additional communication equipment and we have just created a cycle track, allowing our senior pupils access to outdoor play all year round.”