A colourful new sensory room has been officially opened in Newton Aycliffe.
Spider-man and Beauty and the Beast’s ‘Belle’ were on hand as Aycliffe mayor Mary Dalton cut the ribbon at the ‘Sensory Squadron’s’ new facility within the ROF 59 activity centre on Aycliffe Business Park.
The £6,000 sensory room will provide children and babies with autism and other learning disabilities with a space to enjoy and embrace the calming and soothing environment provided by sensory rooms.
ROF 59 leisure manager Chilli Mowbray, who has an autistic child, said: “We felt there wasn’t a facility of this type in the region for parents who have children with special learning needs, and you have to travel a long way to find it.
“These rooms can stimulate their senses but they can also help them to relax. More importantly, we’ll have staff on hand to look after young people in the sensory room, which gives parents the opportunity to take a break and chat with other parents.
“Parents don’t always get the chance to talk to other parents about their experiences and struggles, and this will give them that opportunity but in an informal, relaxed environment where they know their children are safe and having a good time.”
Aycliffe mayor Mary Dalton and deputy mayor Val Raw are joined by ROF 59 founder John Finley at the official launch of the new sensory room.
Mayor Dalton said: “I think it’s absolutely wonderful, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before.
“I know some parents have to travel for something like this, so for us to have this on our doorstep in Newton Aycliffe is fantastic.”
ROF 59 built the new sensory room with guidance from the Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP) in Newton Aycliffe and nearby Tree Tops Nursery.
PCP chief executive Carol Gaskarth said: “It’s a fantastic new facility, not only for the people of Newton Aycliffe but the wider community as well.
“It’s a brilliant place for young people to come and enjoy, but ROF 59 also provides a wonderful opportunity for children to have a bit of a break, as the staff here can monitor the children and mams and dads can relax and chat with other parents.
“We’re delighted to have worked with ROF 59 on this project and we’ll certainly be able to refer families here for those who will benefit from a sensory room like this.”
ROF 59 re-opened as an activity centre nearly four years ago, rejuvenating the old Presswork Metals building and former World War II munitions factory into a 21st Century entertainment and leisure venue, after a £1.1m investment.
The 70,000 sq ft centre, which created 30 new jobs when it opened in September 2015, now includes the Blitz restaurant, the Bunker bar/lounge, ice cream parlour, events room, trampoline park, adventure walls including the ‘leap of faith’, Virtual Reality suite, Battlefield outdoor laser combat, outdoor play area, beer garden, 19m drop-zone, climbing centre and a 200m zip line.
• Aycliffe mayor Mary Dalton and her consort Val Raw are joined by ROF 59 founder John Finley (right) and general manager Glenn Fletcher at the opening of a £6,000 sensory room on Aycliffe Business Park.