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It looks like playtime but really it’s about therapy - 16/05/2012

With a huge grin on his face, a toddler climbs into a ball pit filled to the brim with shiny, plastic orbs and jumps around, spilling them onto the surrounding safety mats.
 
The boy, who has Down syndrome, plays happily under the watchful eye of his learning support assistant.
 
However, what seems to be a romp-around in a huge colourful room, full of multi-coloured foam blocks and shapes, is actually a therapy session in one of the three multi-sensory rooms at Inspire Foundation in Marsascala.
 
The rooms provide different kinds of stimulation to children and adults with special needs.
 
“Although it may look like just play, it isn’t, as each client has a very specific programme drawn up according to their needs after an assessment with our occupational therapist,” explained senior manager Paula Doumanov.
 
More than 300 clients receive treatment at the multi-sensory rooms free of charge. They take up about 500 sessions a month, each session usually lasting an hour.
 
Each of the rooms offers its own therapeutic experience to people with physical, intellectual, emotional or behavioural difficulties.
 
The soft play room, explained Ms Doumanov, encourages physical activity and interaction while the clients have fun, play and learn.
 
The dark room, which is completely black, is designed for visual stimulation and uses bubble tubes and fibre optic sprays. It is used for children who are passive and need sensory stimulation.
 
Meanwhile, the white room provides a calming environment, the most relaxing of the three.
 
The upkeep and maintenance of these rooms is expensive and costs non-profit organisation Inspire about €40,000 a year excluding equipment, Ms Doumanov said.
 
However, Vodafone Foundation donated €30,000 for this year – equivalent to 5,400 sessions.
 
“They are one of our biggest benefactors and always there when we need them. This donation will help with the running of the rooms,” Joshua Farrugia, fundraising manager, said.
 
Roberta Pace, from Vodafone Foundation, said the foundation believed in the good work and dedication offered by Inspire since 2004.
 
“You can see what a great job they do – we are proud to support them,” she said.

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