Wandsworth Arts Fringe – offers a tactile, sensory experience for young people

Play, discover or just relax on May 11 at Oily Cart’s South London HQ in Tooting Broadway as it opens its doors to create and present an inclusive play space for the under 11s and an inclusive hang out space for older children.

This one off event – as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe – offers a tactile, sensory experience for young people with complex needs and their friends and families.

The interactive and immersive 45 minute creative play sessions will run from 10am for children with complex needs under the age of 11, and from 2.15pm for young people with complex needs aged 11+.

Oily Cart regular and actress Katherine Vernez Gray will be on hand to facilitate the session and to interact with families and their young ones – inviting them to play and engage with tactile materials, theatrical props and set pieces for fun, sensory exploration and relaxation.

The idea of the inclusive play space came about through parent April Sethi who met newly appointed Oily Cart director Ellie Griffiths at an event where she expressed her frustrations at the lack of play opportunities for children with complex needs.

As a parent of two – one child with complex needs who April describes as a “wondrously neurodiverse sensory being”, and their younger “amazingly compassionate” neurotypical sibling – she felt saddened at the imbalance that she found in the play opportunities available to her children.

April said: “There seems to a multitude of play opportunities for typically developing children whereas children with special needs often seem like an afterthought or sidelined to one-off events held only a few times a year.

“To me, this is not only frustrating and unacceptable but also does nothing to help promote inclusion.

I have seen, through my own personal experiences, the incredibly positive impact that can come out of being touched by someone with a disability that I think we really ought to have more activities that encourage inclusion rather than segregation.”

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