Kirkby school pupils with special educational needs try out new sensory bus

A sensory bus which provides engaging activities for children with special educational needs has made its first visit to a Kirkby school.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 5:00 pm

The bus, which was set up by Jacksdale couple Melanie and Mark Wilson, is part of the Riley Foundation and has been in the pipeline for a number of months.

The couple set up their charity in the name of their seven-year-old son Riley, who was diagnosed with severe nonverbal autism when he was three.

He has since been diagnosed with ADHD, sensory processing disorder, speech apraxia, anxiety, sleep disorder and PICA (persistent eating of inedible objects), meaning he is a child with complex and severe needs.

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Mr and Mrs Wilson had the idea of a bus equipped with special sensory apparatus after seeing other families struggle with isolation and exclusion.

And now, after months of preparation, it has made its first visit – to Kirkby’s West Park Academy on a visit to support the school’s special educational needs pupils.

The visit was organised by Zoe Ward, a SEN teaching assistant at the school, who says the bus is “extraordinary”.

She said: “I first heard about the Riley Foundation back in June and instantly contacted Mel to keep me informed on the progress of her extraordinary bus.

Mark Wilson behind the wheel as the bus makes its first trip

“The idea of a mobile sensory experience is genius and will benefit so many children, as it did with the pupils of our school.

“We feel honoured to be their first visit and are going to be supporting, raising funds and looking forward to future visits.

“I took two groups of pupils on board, and each group had an hours slot. First was our key stage one children and then our key stage two children, and both groups were amazed by the lights and sounds and particularly enjoyed the ball pit and slide.

“One of our foundation stage pupils Chloe Askew, who has been very unwell recently, attended with her mum Theresa Cotterell and the smile on her face throughout the visit was beautiful to see.”

Melanie and Mark Wilson take the bus out for the first time

Speaking following the visit, Theresa added: “Chloe had an amazing time, she’s not stopped smiling. What an incredible experience.”

To find out more about The Riley Foundation, visit their Facebook page here: facebook.com/therileyfoundation123/

New sensory bus' first outing to West Park Academy, trying out the slide