Minister Reilly officially opens St. Joseph's sensory garden

John Manning

Published 09/08/2014 | 00:00

Yvonne Halstead, part of the cooperative learning team, is assisted by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly, as she cuts the ribbon to officially open the Knockamann sensory garden

A NEW sensory garden has been opened at the St Joseph's Intellectual Disability Service at Knockamann in Portrane.

Located at 'House 1' at Knockamann, the new garden has been designed as a therapeutic space where residents can relax and enjoy the sensory experiences that it provides.

The ribbon was cut on the new facility by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, who said it would offer a 'therapeutic experience in a safe environment'.

The sensory garden is home to a water feature, scented plants, a tactile wall, mobiles, mirrors and safe, edible plants.

The sensory garden grew out of a team project focused on advancing the opportunities for people with intellectual disability in St. Joseph's.

This project was undertaken as part of a module delivered in conjunction with Dublin City University, entitled 'Improving Service with Co-operative Learning'.

The three-person team involved in this project were service user Yvonne Halstead, family member Pat Fogarty and staff member Geraldine Feeney.

According to the HSE: 'The module is facilitated through a co-operative learning team approach with supports provided by academic supervisors and service based mentors.

'The teams undertake the module and the learning outcomes are focused on service change and development.'

At the official opening of the garden, Minister Reilly said: 'I wish to congratulate all persons involved in the module with Dublin City University.

'It is heartening to see that such initiatives can result in such tangible beneficial results. It is wonderful to see the transformation of this space into something that offers the residents such a therapeutic experience in a safe environment.'

Pat Fogarty shared a beautiful recitation describing through poetry the experience that the sensory garden will offer the people who use it.

Eileen Kelly, Area Director of Nursing outlined that the journey through the project had been as enjoyable as the outcome.

She said: 'We wish to extend our thanks and appreciation to the staff in DCU for supporting this project and in particular to Deirdre Corby, who has been instrumental in assisting us in achieving our progress to date.

'Our sincere thanks to the management, staff, parents and friends, service-users and families here at St. Joseph's for all their support.'

The Knockamann development is a state-of-the-art customised residential development, comprising 10 bungalows, each with six individual bedrooms and a comprehensive Day Resource Centre.

The Knockamann Day Resource Centre offers a range of services and facilities to cater for the educational, vocational and leisure needs of the clients of St. Joseph's Intellectual Disability Service.

Services include arts and crafts, training and development, recreational therapy, multi-sensory therapy, physical education, vocational therapy, horticulture, formal teaching using the Montessori method and the life-long learning skills programme.

Fingal Independent

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