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The Rotary Club of Essendon has long been a supporter of Scope’s St Albans Social Connections.

The previous Rotary Club of Essendon president, Vera Maljevac, originally became involved with St Albans Social Connections when she worked at Kangan TAFE and conducted a fundraiser for the program. This got the ball rolling for future support, including when the Rotary group funded the purchase of $1,500 of musical instruments for a music therapy program two years ago, which further cemented connections.

“Vera has been a driving force for support at our St Albans Social Connections site,” said Linda Mazziol, Coordinator St Albans Social Connections.

Ongoing support

Last year, when St Albans Social Connections moved into their new site, Linda reached out to Vera who spoke with Michael Portelli, the Rotary Club of Essendon’s new president, to see if the club would once again like to lend their support. “When we moved into the new site last year, we moved into an empty building where we earmarked a space as a sensory room. It was very bare”, Linda said.

And so, with the support of the Rotary club, $1,500 was raised to put towards decking out the sensory room. Rotary even managed to secure an additional $1,500 from a District 9800 grant to go towards the project.

With a working bee organised, the Rotary group were able to design the room and put together all the equipment, items and toys.

"Having the opportunity to buy sensory items, which are quite expensive, was so beneficial to our clients” said Linda.

Tick of approval from clients

Clients were very curious and excited to check out the room as it was being put together, with many handshakes and introductions. And everyone was excited to see the end result and to learn how this space would support clients.

“The sensory room supports clients in many ways. Anyone can use the room – we have therapists come in and use the room with clients – and it has benefited a number of people since its inception. The room allows clients to use sensory equipment to explore, play and learn in a safe environment. The space can also provide a distraction for pain and anxiety a client may be feeling, as well as being a place to decompress if clients feel they are getting overwhelmed”, Linda said.

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When asked what the clients thought of the room, Linda shared, “Within 15 mins of the room being complete, a client, Nancy, went straight in for around 30 mins with us checking in. She just loved it and had soft music playing and the projector on and she said she had something similar at home. Just the other day we saw a therapist with a Braybrook client in there who was using the new sensory items and toys. And just last Friday we had two brothers who attend and they were in the room and they loved it! The smiles on their faces were just wonderful”.

A continuing partnership

Since the completion of this project, the Rotary Club of Essendon has been keen to continue an open line of communication for any future needs for the St Albans site. For them, it is not just about financial support, but being able to provide tangible results for clients.

Linda and the team are so thankful to Rotary Club of Essendon for their continued support and their willingness to contribute.

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