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Sensory room opens at Fleetdown Open House, Gravesend

By Ed McConnell

Sequins and disco lights are just some of the glittering attractions at a popular mother and baby group’s new sensory room.

Fleetdown Open House now offers young guests the chance to enjoy strobe batons, baby-safe sequin and silk fabrics and disco spectrum lights.

There are also metallic pom poms, among other materials promoting sensory play.

Becky Carolan and daughter Violet Huffer, five months, are joined by Mayor Cllr Rosanna Currans at the Fleetdown Open House baby group

Ellie Robinson, who started the group with friends Joanne Horrigan and Stacey Jeeboah in December 2016, wanted to create an environment suited to all children, including those with special needs.

Multi-sensory play is a safe way for all children to learn how to interact with the world around them.

And it is believed to be beneficial to their emotional and behavioural development.

Ellie Wakefield, second from right, and her team of volunteers at the Fleetdown Open House baby group at the Fleetdown Community Centre on Wednesday

A re-launch was attended by more than 30 children, alongside the Mayor of Dartford, Cllr Rosanna Currans, who has been a supporter of the organisation since it first opened.

Ellie, who runs the group, said: “It was really busy, as busy as we could have hoped for.
“There were a lot of new parents there with small babies.

“The Mayor has helped us quite a bit since we’ve opened and she comes along quite often.
“It was nice for her to see how much it’s grown since the last time she visited.”

Money for the new feature came from several fundraising events.

The group also received help in the shape of a community grant from Dartford council.

In the future, Ellie is hoping to generate enough money to buy a chair which will allow children with physical difficulties to sit up unaided.

The £280 needed will be raised using contributions from members, alongside cake sales, which have been a hit with the local community in the past.

Louise Johns and daughter Ruby, nine months and Mary Keane and her daughter Ruby Keane, ten months, enjoying the re-launch

The organisation relies on support from a team of volunteers.

However, after some recent departures, Ellie is on the lookout for new helpers.

The group, aimed at children under five, runs every Wednesday during term time between 12.45pm and 2.45pm.

It costs £2.50 per adult to attend, and can be found at Fleetdown Community Centre, Swaledale Road, DA2 6JZ.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fopenhouse

Do you have a similar story? Email dartfordmessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk

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