In September 2013, Spa National School was asked to pilot a new and innovative exercise programme. This programme was designed to help children acquire the motor and sensory skills they need for effective learning. It was targeted towards children with a wide range of abilities and needs. Mary Rose Benner, a Paediatric Occupational Therapist with extensive experience in a school setting oversaw the initial pilot programme which was tailored to meet the needs of each individual child
“Children are asked to sit for long periods during the school day, which requires a lot of effort on their part. Spa N.S.’s Occupational Therapy workshops are based on the belief that, if given the opportunity, children know what they need to feel calm, centred and alert. Ultimately they are designed to make children more successful in the classroom” (Mary Rose Benner, Physical Occupational Therapist)
The programme was so successful and the feedback from students, teachers and parents so positive that it was agreed to continue with the initiative. Since then, the school O.T. programme has grown and been expanded.
Today groups of students and full classes are given the opportunity to take part in supervised occupational therapy sessions in the school hall every year where they can try a combination of games, yoga poses, drills and occupational therapy exercises. A variety of equipment including yoga balls, tennis balls, scooters, tunnel and benches is also used.
The feedback has been overwhelming. After the workshops children are more able to control their behaviour, better able to concentrate and access an academic curriculum and most importantly have greater confidence and higher self esteem.
We in Spa N.S. are delighted to provide this wonderful initiative and support our young students in achieving and developing the skills and character to make a successful transition into secondary school and adult life.