Northern Ireland news

Former Ireland rugby stars visit west Belfast school to open new 'immersive' classroom

Marie Louise McConville
30 January, 2020 01:00

A new state-of-the-art sensory classroom in a west Belfast special needs school was officially opened yesterday by two well-known sporting legends.

Ireland rugby stars Tommy Bowe and Willie John McBride paid a special visit to St Gerard's School and Support Services on the Black's Road to have a look around the "immersive multi-sensory classroom", which was made possible thanks to funding from Wooden Spoon.

The children's rugby charity, which funds life-changing projects that support children and young people with disabilities or living in disadvantage, awarded £35,000 to St Gerard's.

During their visit, Bowe (35), a former an Irish former rugby union player from Co Monaghan and McBride (79), from Co Antrim, who played 63 Tests for Ireland including 11 as captain, met pupils and staff before enjoying a tour of the school and the sensory room.

School principal Sephen Ramsey said the classroom would have a "calming influence" on the school which has around 300 pupils, aged three to 19.

"We have put a state-of-the-art sensory room in and basically that is to meet the changing needs of our pupils," he said.

"This is an immersive multi-sensory classroom and it has brought things to life for them. It can also be used as a very calming influence for some of our children with a range of complex needs. Some children find it difficult to emotionally regulate and this will help with this."

He added: "The school is so thankful to the Wooden Spoon charity, and our students will really benefit from the impact of this wonderful resource that we now have."

30 January, 2020 01:00 Northern Ireland news