Newport manufacturer donates sensory boon for autistic primary school pupils

A Newport firm has donated a specialist sensory den worth more than £7,500 to help improve the lives of children with additional educational needs at a local primary school.

Water management specialists Asset International designed and built the unique project using state-of-the-art technology usually used for underground water pipes. They chose to donate the den to Machen Primary School after being moved by the fundraising efforts of Claire Kulisa – a parent of one of the children at the school.

Dubbed the ‘Marathon Mum’, Claire, 39, chose to take part in her first marathon this year to fundraise for the den due to the fact that her autistic daughter, Lilly, had benefited from additional support during her time at Machen Primary.

Passionate about raising money for the project, the inspiring mother completed the race despite astonishingly breaking her leg with more than ten miles left to go.

The new den, named the Cwtsh, will combine a range of stimuli, including different lights, colours sounds and textures to provide individuals with additional educational needs with a safe and comforting environment to explore their senses and build up their confidence and abilities.

It is hoped that regular access to the Cwtsh will enhance pupils’ concentration and focus, improve alertness and social communication skills, as well as providing a calming effect to enable them to thrive both in and out of the classroom.

Neil Bryan, Finance Director at Asset International, whose children also study at Machen Primary school, said: “On hearing about Claire’s incredible achievement and perseverance, we were keen to support her to reach her goal in whatever way we could. Given the nature of our work, we were well placed to deliver the project, which we created in collaboration with Claire and the school to ensure the den was effectively designed with the children who would be using it firmly in mind.”

The donation from Asset has meant that the £1,400 raised by Claire could be used to equip the sensory den with a bubble tube and fibreoptic sensory lights.

The project is set to a major hit with the students following its official opening event on Tuesday 7th November, which will be attended by Welsh actor Richard Mylan, whose son has autism.

Claire said: “Being the parent of an autistic child myself, I understand first-hand just how overwhelming the school environment can be for young children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or sensory issues.

“Since moving to Machen three years ago, the school has provided us with so much support and made my daughter’s school life much more positive. Even though she Is now leaving to go to secondary school, I wanted to give something back to Machen Primary for all of their help. I can’t thank Asset enough for their donation, which I know will be invaluable to so many children at the school. It’s truly humbling to see so many people willing to donate time, money and resources to the project.”

Andrew Lloyd, Headteacher at Machen Primary School added: “We are extremely thankful to Asset International, whose generosity has enabled us to make our ambitious plans a reality. The sensory den will make a huge difference to the lives of many children at the school, both now and in the generations to come.”

The sensory den was delivered by Kyles Transport using a crane to winch the building into position. Armari Plastics and Cymru Glass Cwmbran supplied bespoke windows and a door and CJS Electrical installed the electricity to the sensory den. The den will be officially opened September 2017.