Two Sara Cohen classrooms opened

Sara Cohen School principal Raewyn Alexander and pupil Tyryn Duncan in their new classroom at Bathgate Park School, Dunedin, yesterday. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Sara Cohen School principal Raewyn Alexander and pupil Tyryn Duncan in their new classroom at Bathgate Park School, Dunedin, yesterday. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Getting a purpose-fitted classroom to roll around with ease in his wheelchair was exciting for Tyryn Duncan yesterday, but the best part of his day was definitely the cake.

''I get to eat cake today. My tummy is hungry. I love cake.''

It was clear cake was a special treat for the 13-year-old Sara Cohen School pupil, but he had to admit his new classroom was ''pretty awesome'' too, because until yesterday, he had to be content with a classroom about a quarter the size at Bathgate Park School, which was often difficult to manoeuvre around in his wheelchair.

Sara Cohen School principal Raewyn Alexandra said thanks to funding from the Ministry of Education, the school's two satellite classrooms, at Bathgate Park School and Concord School, had recently been given a $120,000 makeover.

''They were very small. We all had to breathe at the same time so we could all fit in.''

The classrooms had been designed specially for children with special needs, and included facilities such as special tables for changing nappies, a special needs bathroom, and a light and airy room with extra space for pupils in wheelchairs to move around in.

''I love the new room. I can move around better,'' Tyryn said.

The classrooms would be used by six pupils at Bathgate and three pupils at Concord next year, but could each accommodate up to 10 pupils. Sara Cohen board of trustees chairwoman Shelley Hill said the classrooms within Bathgate Park School and Concord School provided their pupils the best of both worlds.

A parent of a Sara Cohen pupil with autism was concerned about the wellbeing of her son being in a mainstream school because she believed the school had little understanding ofautism and had difficulty telling the difference between autism and bad behaviour.

Since going to Sara Cohen classes, he was much calmer, happier, and making great progress in his school work, she said.

The new rooms were officially opened and blessed yesterday, followed by coffee and cake.

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