Aberdeen Science Centre promotes inclusivity with new sensory space

01/04/2024
Young girl exploring senses touching brush like material wearing headphones

ABERDEEN Science Centre has introduced a new Sensory Space to support visitors that could feel overwhelmed or overstimulated whilst at the centre.  

The Sensory Space has been designed to create a calming break-out area for children with additional support needs and has been installed in the centre thanks to generous funding from Aberdeen International Airport’s ABZ Propeller Fund.  

The space features a variety of toys and accessories designed to create a relaxing atmosphere that allows visitors to the centre to discover the wonders of science at their own pace, and in conditions that are suitable to their needs. 

The Sensory Space, which is situated at the side of Aberdeen Science Centre’s ground floor exhibition area, includes a wheelchair accessible dark den to block out light, comfortable seating, a sit-on balance ball to support vestibular feedback, sensory cushions, weighted lap buddies, and a variety of light-up accessories. 

In addition to the sensory toys and accessories, the space will also feature a newly installed coloured lighting system that will reduce light sensitivity, courtesy of Aberdeen audiovisual company, AV One. 

Visitors to Aberdeen Science Centre are invited to use the Sensory Space as and when they see fit, but children must be always accompanied by an adult.  

Fidget toys and ear defenders are also available for use while at the centre and can be collected from the reception area.  

The team at Aberdeen Science Centre also recently undertook neurodiversity and learning differences awareness training to better understand how to support children with additional support needs.  

Lynda McConnach, public and digital coordinator at Aberdeen Science Centre, said: “A visit to Aberdeen Science Centre can be a fun and exciting experience, but for some of our visitors with additional support needs, it can also be overstimulating. Our new Sensory Space has been introduced to create a safe area for children to step away from any environmental stimulation and potential triggers, ensuring we can better accommodate the diverse needs of our visitors. 

“Thanks to the kind support from the ABZ Propeller Fund, we have been able to enhance our public offering with the new Sensory Space facilities. We estimate that close to 3,000 children per year will benefit from having access to the space, and we are proud to play our part in promoting inclusivity across Aberdeen and the North-east of Scotland.” 

Bruce Watson, chair of the ABZ Propeller Fund, said: “We are delighted our support has helped bring a sensory space to Aberdeen Science Centre.  

“While our fund is very competitive, Aberdeen Science Centre provided us with a fantastic project to be involved with and we can’t wait to hear how visitors benefit from this new inclusive space.” 

The introduction of the Sensory Space has also been welcomed by the neurodiversity support organisation, SensationALL.  

Katie McNutt, chief executive officer at SensationALL, said: “It’s wonderful to see Aberdeen Science Centre embrace inclusivity and create a safe and accessible sensory environment to meet the needs of an ever-growing neurodiverse society. 

“The Sensory Space encompasses so many features that can vastly improve the experience for the whole family and bring reassurance and relief to those who may otherwise not have been able to attend due to regulation/sensory challenges. SensationALL specialises in support, consultation and training to both adults and children with neurodivergent conditions and additional support needs for all ages and stages. We are so excited to be able to recommend this new feature at Aberdeen Science Centre for our families to enjoy and benefit from!” 

Aberdeen International Airport’s ABZ Propeller Fund has helped many organisations by providing grants and has previously supported Aberdeen Science Centre with increasing its range of educational loan boxes, which are available for use by schools or community groups.  

Relaunched in 2022, the fund is open to groups, charities and organisations with links to education, sustainability and economic regeneration. 

Based on Constitution Street near Aberdeen beach, ASC is home to almost 65 interactive exhibits, allowing people of all ages to discover topics including Space, Energy, Life Sciences, Engineering, and much more.  

Open seven days a week, Aberdeen Science Centre also offers exclusive venue hire as well as room hire for corporate, social and private events. 

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