Appeal aims to raise £60,000 for autistic children in Sunderland

LAUNCHING APPEAL: Staff and students from Columbia Grange School in Washington play dress-up on their fun day.

LAUNCHING APPEAL: Staff and students from Columbia Grange School in Washington play dress-up on their fun day.

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AN appeal has been launched to raise £60,000 for autistic children in Sunderland.

Columbia Grange School in Washington, which caters for autistic primary-aged pupils, and the Sunderland Autism Outreach Team, decided Autism Awareness Day was the ideal time to launch the appeal yesterday.

A lot of autistic children find it difficult to access mainstream groups, and the club hut would enable us to continue and increase the range of clubs, groups and training that we can provide.

Claire Tubman, support worker

Claire Tubman, a support worker with the outreach team, which is based at the school, but supports autistic children and their families across the city, said the money is much needed for a revamp of the school’s sensory room, and to build a special cabin in the grounds for out-of-school activities.

They kicked-off their fund-raising with a coffee morning and baking competition for parents and students, the first of many events needed to raise such a large amount.

Claire said: “We need to completely revamp the school’s sensory room, which is very worn and outdated.

“The cabin will be for us to run a big range of activities and clubs for the children to mix and make new friends.

“A lot of autistic children find it difficult to access mainstream groups, and the club hut would enable us to continue and increase the range of clubs, groups and training that we can provide.”

Claire said the specialised equipment is very expensive and the sensory room will cost about £40,000 to transform for the children.

Although the club hut itself will cost about £20,000, they will then have to find the money to furnish and equip it.

She added: “We thought Autism Awareness Day was a great time to invite lots of families along and get the fund-raising started.”

The Sunderland Autism Outreach Team, jointly funded by City Hospitals Sunderland, Columbia Grange and Sunderland City Council, is celebrating winning the National Award for Innovative Family Support from the National Autistic Society.

It was presented to them by NAS President Jane Asher at a special ceremony at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the appeal can visit the JustGiving online fund-raising site at www.justgiving.com/columbiagrangeschool, or can contact the outreach team on 219 3863.