A COVENTRY nurse and her friend are calling for donations to help launch a ‘sensory petting farm’ for children with special needs.
Cheryl Bates, a child support worker, and nurse Lauren Knight, came up with the idea at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) in Walsgrave, where they work.
Animal lover Ms Bates says she wants to provide a safe place for children to play and interact with animals at an as yet undecided location.
She says it would help overworked parents and improve kids’ behaviour and mental health – while getting them closer to nature.
They are also planning a sensory area with lights, soft play and small water features to provide a calming space for children.
The duo has decades of experience supporting children, and understanding the challenges for parents of youngsters with complex needs.
They hope to obtain charity status for the petting farm so they can support children with all types of disability or special needs.
Ms Bates said: “It is about providing a space where their children can go and interact with the animals for sensory reasons, calming reasons, and for fun.
“Our aim is to create and build somewhere that all children can go but have dedicated days and rooms and activities specific to different needs.
“Such as days just for those with autism who do not like loud noises, and sessions for wheelchair bound children, complex care children, sessions for families to bring their able bodied children along to interact with their disabled child.
“It is all about being families together – helping them get out of the house and have somewhere to go where they can feel safe, protected, not judged and ultimately will help stimulate and connect their child or children in whatever way we possible can.
“Animals are known to be calming, but can also provide sensory feedback through their sounds and through touching them.”
They have launched a donations page aiming to raise £5,000 to register as a charity.
They are also planning various fundraising days to help reach this target.
And they are appealing to people to donate toys and equipment that the children and animals can use.
The pair is searching for an appropriate setting for the farm and Ms Bates already has many animals she has rescued herself.
She says she will also try and re-home new animals for the children to play with.
To donate visit here.