As part of our on-going commitment to inclusion, BAND has run a pilot session with the PlayBus Sensory Truck to see if improving disabled children’s access to a sensory environment supports their fun, behaviour, enjoyment, relaxation and inclusion and supports staff knowledge in terms of new ideas for activities and creating sensory areas.
The Sensory Truck is a mobile sensory play space with a ball pit, UV area, air bubble tube, and many other sensory resources.
‘Designed specifically for disabled children with additional needs, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
This unique multi-sensory mobile space gives children the opportunity to control their environment, making choices that allow them to choose the colours, sounds and tactile experiences they want.
A hands-on and exploratory approach to a sensory space allows children to choose the experiences that meet their needs and to discover the sensory inputs that work best for them.’ – PlayBus Sensory Truck Review.
Ashley Down After School club was identified as a setting who are supporting
disabled children who would particularly benefit from experiencing a sensory environment. And so, over the Easter holidays, the children at Ashley Down received a funded visit from the PlayBus Sensory Truck.
The plan was that all children at the setting would have a minimum of about 15 minutes on the truck (dependent on numbers). Disabled children or children who would particularly benefit from access to the truck would be able to stay on by themselves for a while or for a bit longer dependent on the needs of the setting and children.
The Sensory Truck would be staffed by 2 playworkers: Tom who is the Inclusion Lead and Sam who is a Sensory Playworker. Both have worked with a variety of statutory and non-statutory settings supporting inclusion and sensory experiences for children and would share their knowledge with staff with a view to providing new ideas.
A day was identified that most disabled children were able to attend and other families were made aware of the date so that they could bring their children along if they chose. Ashley Down decided to run sensory activities on the day as well, and borrowed the BAND Dark Den for the same time.
On the day.
Feedback from the play setting
‘The setup of the truck works very well, helping children to explore the different feelings and perceptions by themselves, therefore they can find where their favourite play props are, choosing what they like. We had a really positive experience!
Feedback from the kids:
‘Really, really good.’
‘I liked the ball pit and the light cube, it would change colours’.
‘Playing in the ball pit was the best bit. I did a backwards flip’.
‘My favourite bit was the ball pit!’
‘The ball pit was exciting to go under the balls and hide’.
Support worker feedback
The child I was supporting ‘played a lot with the squeeze toys and flexible springs hanging from the ceilings. He explored the truck and discovered by himself where his favourite kind of sensory toys were. The activities he enjoyed the most have been music and lights; playing with disco lights in different parts of the truck and exploring the rooms.’
The child I support ‘loves the music and lights. He had an amazing time, listening to music (choosing the music by himself on the tablet) and flashing lights’.
Feedback from PlayBus
‘The mix of disabled and non-disabled children went very well. We were pleased to see a boy from our Let’s All Play sessions whose face was a picture when he realised that myself and Sam had miraculously popped up in another part of his life; I have never seen him so happy. We were impressed by the leadership and staff (at Ashley Down Club) who were attentive to the children’s needs and they understood the role of the truck.’
Feedback from BAND DS Worker
Haidi, one of the DS Team, went along and gave this feedback:
‘I’d been told the Sensory Truck was an amazing space, but my expectations were surpassed. The truck gave the children the opportunity to experience a range of multi-sensory equipment and resources. The Playbus playworkers also had a great way of combining playwork with sensory play to meet the individual children’s needs. The atmosphere within the truck was very calm and relaxing despite there being loads for the children to do. It was a great opportunity for staff at the holiday club to build on their knowledge.’
The feedback we have received supports the Sensory Truck being positive for inclusion as all children were able to actively enjoy the space and play staff were able to see what resources were on the truck and how they were used. Based on the success of the visit, BAND is looking into whether we can fund other settings that are supporting disabled children to receive a visit, and whether we can offer other training about creating and using your own sensory environment. Watch this space!
PlayBus are currently looking at ways for the Sensory Truck to help bridge the gap between school and community groups for disabled children and their peers. If you are a community group looking to do this too, or if you would like to book a visit from the sensory truck yourselves, then contact Playbus on Email:Manager@bristolplaybus.org or Tel: 0117 9551561. If you would like to know more about the truck’s first year in action, you can read the Playbus Sensory Truck Review here:
And a big thankyou to the children and team at Ashley Down Out of School Club for their support for the pilot and feedback, to PlayBus Sensory Truck team for making it work so well, to the Inclusive Play Project for their support for the pilot and to Bristol City Council who have provided the funding through BAND for this trial.