A hi-tech immersive room, which allows children with restricted mobility to interact with a host of environments, has been formally opened at Ash Trees Academy Rievaulx site, in Billingham.

The state of the art facility, costing around £20,000, has been paid from school funds and donations by the Parents and Friends of the Academy, the Finlay Cooper Trust, the Boro Walkers Association and Cleveland Fire Brigade Risk Management.

The room is equipped with a series of movement sensitive projectors allowing pupils to transform the landscape, anything from the fire of London to a pine forest, underwater world to an interactive football pitch.

As well as the visual displays, the room is equipped with a wind machine and can also enhance the sensory experience with smells ranging from pine to coffee, baking to cut grass.

Ash Trees Academy’s two sites provides learning for children with complex needs aged four to 11.

Assistant head of academy Carolyn Bird said: “The room is incredible and will allow our students to feel they can interact with the latest technology. It is learning through fun and the children don’t even realise they are actually undergoing therapy while playing.”

Head of academy Wendy Coates added: “We have an amazing PFA who are constantly raising money for us and this new facility is a fantastic example of the incredible support we receive from the community.”

The Finlay Cooper Foundation is run by former Middlesbrough footballer and manager Colin Cooper and his wife Julie in memory of their son raising thousands of pounds a year for good causes.

Extra money was provided for the sensory room by Cleveland Fire Brigade and Boro Walkers, who also raise funds for local causes.

Chair of the Parents and Friends of the Academy Shamaine Brant said: “The equipment is absolutely amazing and it is great to see how the children react to it.”

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