Sensory Nature Adventures and Play with the Sensory Trust
By Madeleine Amos
17th January 2019
We know children with disabilities and their families can find it hard to get out and enjoy the outdoors. It can seem a daunting and exhausting prospect! At Sensory Trust, we’ve launched the Sensory Nature Adventures and Play project (SNAP) and created a beautiful mixture of fun and engagement with nature. We have been fortunate to work with wonderful families at exciting, genuinely inclusive events. All the activities can be replicated at home – after all, everyday magic can be found just outside your front door. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it!
The SNAP approach is to provide relaxed activities that can be taken at any pace. Fully accessible, short and sensory rich, they’re focused on nature engagement. We want families to be curious and take the time to notice the season, the temperature of the air, even the smell of the dirt! The more we seek out, the more things we discover.
SNAP sessions are for the whole family. The activities work for all children regardless of ability. It’s all about adapting to individual needs – it’s a shared process and we encourage feedback. One parent reflected on the session they attended: ‘An amazing experience and we are all very grateful. My youngest often finds things tricky but she was relaxed and happy all day.’ Families know their own likes and dislikes but at SNAP they’re encouraged to be adventurous, and it doesn’t matter if what transpires doesn’t work! It’s more about the process than the results.
All activity days are held at accessible sites. You can also try out the activities in your own garden or on a short stroll. A huge part is simply ‘being’ in nature, taking it slow, noticing surroundings. And those surroundings can be as simple as the smallest patch of grass in an urban environment.
Lynsey Robinson at Sensory Trust says, ‘We’re constantly surprised by the joy and engagement of the families we work with. It is a real privilege to share in those special moments.’
The sessions build an understanding not only for nature but also for each other. We all have the right to connect with natural world.
SNAP encourages participants to be braver going out in nature. Get out in the wind, feel the drizzle! As Billy Connolly says, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing’. Fresh air alone is enough – whatever the weather, there’s value in being outdoors.
The Sensory Trust has developed a downloadable library of activities and resources that are freely available at: https://www.sensorytrust.org.uk/projects/snap-resource-library.html
You can connect with the Sensory Trust through social media or email through their website.