Students in South Tyneside are enjoying a lightbulb moment as they begin to use a new sensory room they helped create.
Project Sense, which brings together people with autism who are on courses at South Tyneside College, has created the room to help them study and relax.
The team researched and fundraised to enhance what was already on offer through the National Citizen Service (NCS) in an effort delivered by Headlines, a media charity which works to give young people a voice.
The students, who mostly study through the college’s Interface department, took part in an adventure activities residential and worked together as a team as they put together their ideas.
Niall Clare, 16, Brandon Ridley, 17, Ben Allison and Darren Glass, both 19, Matthew Cook, 20, and Amy Jackson, 22, were involved.
Ben, from Cleadon, said: “We have had great fun choosing a space and deciding what things to put in the room.”
Darren added: “People with autism can get frustrated in some social situations. Our sensory room will ensure students have somewhere safe to go when they need time out.”
Matthew said: “A lot of people don’t realise that autism has a spectrum. They associate the condition with extreme behaviour. We want to promote more understanding.”
Project Sense raised £295 from the community towards the cost of the room, which contains calming lights, relaxing sounds and furniture.
The students are also working on a film to address misconceptions about autism.
Nicola Beldham, curriculum manager of Interface and supported learning at the college, said: “Although the group attend a mainstream college, it is important for them to have access to facilities to support their individual needs.
“The sensory room further enhances the support already in place. They recognised there was scope to improve an existing ‘chill out’ zone, and took it upon themselves to do just that. I am very proud of all they have achieved.”
Fiona Wyton, the director of Headliners, added: “These young people have delivered a fantastic social action project and made a real change in their community, which is what the NCS programme is all about.”