Local charity’s new plans will meet children’s needs

Lisa with her son Oliver, the inspiration behind the charity
Lisa with her son Oliver, the inspiration behind the charity

A charity which began in Longridge seven years ago is aiming to open a new sensory centre for children with disabilities.

And it is also hoping to gain help with funding a special weekend club through its recent nomination for the Lloyds Community Fund 2013 and win the £3,000 on offer.

OJ’s Sensory Interactive Trust was started in June 2006 by Lisa Donoghue and named after her 15-year-old son Oliver, who has severe autism and learning difficulties. Lisa explained that they were second out of four nominations for the fund when the voting was due to close last Friday.

She said: “What we are trying to achieve at OJ’s if we are successful is that the money would go towards a special weekend club where our children and families can visit.

“The children’s difficulties would be understood and their needs met. This would be at Longridge Sports Centre every weekend.”

The charity has also submitted an application to Preston Council to change the use of a disused Ribbleton unit from storage and distribution to a sensory interactive centre.

If the plans are approved, the site on Red Scar Business Park would help the charity provide activities and specialist holiday clubs.

Lisa added: “At the moment we hire out various sites to provide our activities and we’ve been discussing for some time about having our own centre. I’m hoping families will walk in and feel like a kid in a sweet shop!

“It’s a place where families or carers can come and bring their children out of their home in a very safe, understanding, non-judgemental environment.

“I know a lot of families who think the same way as I do – they all want to be able to have a place where we can all go and meet.”

She said the inventive plans could include different play zones, including a first floor area accessible for wheel-chair users, adding: “We are looking at having a massive room where you can go and play with shaving foam and bubbles.”

• OJ’s is a registered charity that aims to provide activities for children with autism, learning difficulties and associated disorders. Family days and activities are based on various sites across the Ribble Valley and the Longridge area. It has sole hire and exclusive use of indoor play areas, swimming pools, and outdoor activity centres. Contact Lisa on 01772 668940.