Wooden Spoon sponsors garden

TRACKS autism sensory garden sandpitWooden Spoon is the Children's Charity of Rugby and was founded in 1983. The charity is helps children and young people who are disadvantaged physically, mentally or socially by using sport as a method of improving lives while harnessing the spirit and values of rugby.

John Batters, chair of Wooden Spoon Hertfordshire Region contacted TRACKS autism to offer financial support. "When I saw in the local paper that TRACKS was struggling financially, I contacted Nan Cannon-Jones, the charities co- founder, to see whether Wooden Spoon could help", said John Batters, Chairman of Wooden Spoon Hertfordshire.

"We arranged to meet when it quickly became apparent that the care and dedication of the Staff, allied to the benefits gained by the children, in an environment that is not only rare in Hertfordshire, but throughout the UK, made TRACKS an ideal partner for Wooden Spoon."

By this time, TRACKS autism had secured sufficient working capital funds to continue and were seeking capital grants towards a sensory garden explained John. Wooden Spoon offered match funding to enable the garden, the long-term dream of TRACKS autism founder Nan Cannon-Jones, to be created. Peter Scott MBE, President of Wooden Spoon, officially opened the garden, named The Wooden Spoon Sensory Garden, on 12 July 2010.

The new garden includes a variety of features including a sand pit, a toddler bike track, painting boards, water play kits and weaving frames. In addition, road safety items including toy traffic lights, cones and a zebra crossing will allow children to learn road safety skills to use as they grow up. Growing areas allow children and staff to grow salads and strawberries. Tasting a feeling the fruit and vegetables allows them to connect to their environment through living plants. Taste in particular is an important sense to many children with autism as it helps them to experience the garden in a new way.

Wooden Spoon logoA seated sensory corner offers a quiet space where staff and parents can talk whilst their children play safely in the new garden. TRACKS staff devote time to supporting parents and carers, and this seating area will be an invaluable resource for the centre. "Everyone has told us how delighted staff, children and parents are with the garden", said John. "The Hertfordshire Region of Wooden Spoon is very pleased to have been involved and become a partner with TRACKS."

Nationally Wooden Spoon has over 40 regions and nearly 10,000 members. Over 400 of these members are in Hertfordshire where Wooden Spoon has been in existence for 8 years during which time it has donated £250,000 between 14 separate projects within the county. It is one of Spoon's great achievements that all monies raised in Hertfordshire are spent within the county said John.