Published: 16:03, 14 October 2021
| Updated: 17:18, 14 October 2021
Swimming with dolphins is a popular choice on many a must-do wish list.
But it is set to become a dream come true for children at a special educational needs school.
The special technology in action
Staff at Danecourt in Gillingham have launched a campaign to raise £150,000 for an immersive classroom – an interactive space where pupils can engage with a virtual world through touch, sight, smell and sound.
Youngsters will be transformed into a totally different environment, thanks to projected images on the walls, controllable lights, sounds temperature, vibrations and even smells.
Head teacher Cathryn Falconer said: "Once inside the room, the children can virtually explore parts of the world and experiences may of them wouldn't normally encounter, and most importantly for the children who come to our school, these experiences can be in an environment where they feel safe.
"It expands the horizons as they engage with these new experiences in the place they feel safe and supported – at school.
"They can go swimming with dolphins – the classroom becomes a moving underwater world with dolphins, other sea creatures and underwater sounds, and when they touch the walls, their fingers create ripples.
"They can visit the launch of a spaceship, the ground vibrates and smoke billows and they can feel the wind from lift-off on their faces."
Ms Falconer added the multi-sensory area could be used for more down-to-earth purposes, such as a visit to a supermarket, preparing them for life skills away from the school environment.
The Hotel Road school caters for primary-aged children who have complex learning difficulties, autism, social, emotional and mental health issues.
Ms Falconer said: "Our mission is to provide all pupils with a stimulating learning environment that allows them to explore through a personalised curriculum to become STARS – self-reliant, team player, aspirations, resilient and successful."
The fundraising bid, named Imagine the Impossible, has already started with staff, parents and pupils joining forces to reach the £150,000 target – £6,310 has been raised since the beginning of the month.
Twenty members of staff are taking part in a 5k fun run next month, a parent completed the virtual London Marathon and children will be doing a sponsored run.
A teacher will be undertaking a gruelling 100km trek through Morocco.
There are plans to hire out the facility to other schools and nurseries across the Towns.
Ms Falconer said: "We would also like to make it available for local charities, care homes and elderly groups.
"This amazing space has so much potential providing enriching experiences to the young and old.
"It is a huge amount of money. But the impact it will have on the children is huge and worth every penny."
If you can help with funds, visit the school's website.