Children with sensory processing issues find the sensory-friendly garden enjoyable

Sensory friendly outings

by Ann van Engelen

The members of the Smile Dial network joined together for their end of year party at the Rawhiti Domain in New Brighton.

“Smile Dial is a charity supporting families with special needs. We have been operating for eight years with an online support group of more than 1,000 people and some 4,000 families registered nationwide,” says CEO Sam Hall.

“We have a sensory-friendly garden behind the community gardens at New Brighton where people from around Christchurch can go.

Our picnic last Sunday was a very successful event with some 20 families enjoying the get-together. We gave away lots of Christmas presents at our party, and we have more than 40 letters to Santa. At the sensory garden, there is a memory garden where you can plant a tree in memory of a child who has passed away or hang an ornament off a tree that represents a child. The garden is amazing, and children with sensory processing issues can be free to play without the fear of it being overstimulating. There are plants to taste, touch and smell and a dry river so children can go up into the boat through the open back and play with others and helps everyone be included.

“One hundred per cent of funds we raise throughout the year goes to families with special needs for items including medical equipment, counselling and couples’ retreats for respite. We have supplied firewood for families and completed projects to make life easier for them including backyard paths and beach wheelchairs for people to get onto the sand at New Brighton. Our SmileDial Facebook page is always up to date with our accomplishments.”