Peter Hinze (left), Chair of Community Services at AIRC, and Marco Cogollos, General Manager at Conrad Algarve
Peter Hinze (left), Chair of Community Services at AIRC, and Marco Cogollos, General Manager at Conrad Algarve

Sensory room “a dream come true”

Almancil International Rotary Club supports local special needs children

A dream came true for staff and special needs pupils at a school in Almancil – E.B. Cónego Dr Clementino de Brito Pinto/Agrupamento de Escolas de Almancil – and most especially for teachers Rita Reis and Maria Mestre.

Rita and Maria teach children with special needs whose ages range from five to 16. These children’s problems can include but are not limited to autism, Down’s syndrome, hyperactivity and depression. The dream was to have a sensory room which would benefit these children.

Time in a sensory room can provide a sense of calm, help and improve their visual and auditory skills and help to regulate their behaviour. However, equipment for these rooms is specific and expensive.

When Peter Hinze, Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) Chair of Community Services, heard about the need for a sensory room, he decided this was a project the club should become involved with. After all, AIRC had supported the school with various projects in the past, including support for the special needs children.

Sensory Room Almancil (1)

Peter contacted local businesses QP Savills and Conrad Algarve hotel, both of which agreed to help. On December 1, 2022, Conrad General Manager Marco Cogollos organised a fundraising event which was well attended. This, together with generous donations from the Conrad, QP Savills and AIRC members and friends, enabled the project to be started and the equipment bought.

A local electrician, Hugo Pereira, donated the installation of the electrical equipment for the room and Loulé Council also made a contribution.

Last week, the project finally came to fruition. The room is now complete with state-of-the-art equipment, including a waterbed, music and many sensory light and tactile objects for the children to use on occasions when Rita and Maria feel the children need time out from their lesson to calm down or when they may be in need of sensory stimulation.

At a ceremony at the school attended by staff, teachers and members and guests of AIRC, the Sensory Room was officially opened by Peter Hinze, Marco Cogollos and School Director Rosário Militão.

“We are delighted and proud to have supported this worthwhile project,” said Peter Hinze. “Our next project will be to raise funds for a sensory garden at the Alzheimer’s association day care facility in Vila Sol.”

AIRC welcomes new members of all nationalities who are willing to become part of the efforts to support the local community and make new friends. Email [email protected]