Below are some examples of recent projects, funded by generous donations from individuals, Trusts, companies, Rotary clubs and Town Councils, providing enriched learning opportunities for children and young adults severely affected by autism.

Wheelyboat

Total funds raised: £35,000

We have been able to raise funds to purchase a new Wheelyboat for use by all of our students but also used for 'Sailability' at Burghfield Sailing Club. Sailability through Burghfield Sailing Club is a voluntary organisation that is dedicated to bringing boating to people with disabilities on equal terms.

Prior’s Court young people have been visiting Sailability for over 10 years and gain great benefits from sailing and power boating, including sensory elements, social interaction, health and wellbeing and being able to access leisure activities which may otherwise not be possible. Having our own Wheelyboat will enable all of our young people to experience sailing as the boat will be available when needed. Young people will be able to access an increased number of ASDAN units through their participation in Sailability, as well as work towards RYA Sailability certificates of achievements.  

Music Circle (outdoor music learning area)

Total funds raised: £50,000

student playing drums in outdoor music circleOur new Music Circle offers a very different kind of outdoor learning environment for young people with autism giving the young people somewhere different to learn, play and explore.  

Dr Petra Kern, a Music Therapist at the University of Louisville in the USA, whose work focuses on young children with ASD, first identified the benefits of outdoor music environments for those with autism as they involve action based learning and engagement, which is particularly relevant for the young people at Prior’s Court.  

The Music Circle will involve learning through investigation and will give our young people new and different opportunities to enhance their P-level learning while socialising and having fun.  It can also be used when students experience anxiety or emotional difficulties, using the instruments to express themselves, channel emotions and feel calm.

We recently invited former Elbow drummer and Musician, Richard Jupp to officially open our Music Circle, read more here.

Vocational Skills Workshop

Total funds raised: £31,000

Our new onsite vocational skills workshop is used for activities such as woodwork, metal work, general tool work and maintenance of bikes.  It provides a hands-on environment where the young people can practise and develop skills which are then transferable to other areas of their life and possible future work placements. Young people can also make items to sell as part of their lifeskills experiences.

Outdoor Play and Wet Weather Equipment

young people playing on outdoor play equipmentTotal funds raised: £112,000

As part of our commitment to physical exercise we have funded several new outdoor play, wet weather and relaxation areas within the grounds to encourage use throughout the waking day.  By providing fun areas for the young people to play and relax it helps them to self-manage their anxieties, reduce self-stimulatory and challenging behaviours.  

Multi Sensory Suite

Total funds raised: £70,466

Our new multi-sensory suite opened in February 2015 and has provided much needed additional sensory support for students. The suite includes a multi-sensory room, white room and soft play area to ensure the wide range of sensory needs are met.  These types of multi-sensory environments are particularly beneficial for people with autism, as they can learn to interact with their surroundings in a safe, non-threatening way and in their own time.  They also allow them to explore, learn, understand and communicate more effectively using all of their senses. 

Horticulture Classroom

Total funds raised: £14,500

Student watering plantsA new Horticulture Classroom was created by adapting an existing potting shed so that young people can learn and practice horticulture skills such as planting seeds, watering and pruning plants, learning individually or in small groups throughout the year.

Horticulture sessions are built into the curriculum and provide opportunities to add to their vocational and leisure experiences, as well as helping students work towards ASDAN accreditations and gain a sense of achievement.