Bernie Nelson and Trina Boylan officially open the Cavan Autism Parents Support (CAPS) Sensory Garden at Cavan County Museum, Ballyjamesduff, on Thursday in the presence of Cathaoirleach Clifford Kelly, Cllr Trevor Smith, Chair Municipal District Ballyjamesduff & CAPS parents and councillors. See page 45 for more pictures.Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Sensory garden in full bloom

Autism Awareness Month culminated in Cavan with a very special celebration - the official opening of a new sensory garden in Ballyjamesduff by the Cavan Autism Parents Support (CAPS) group.

“What a wonderful way to end Autism Awareness Month for CAPS,” said Trina Boylan, administrator of CAPS.

Located adjacent to the County Museum, tens of thousands of euro were spent in developing the amenity.

“Part funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and Cavan County Council under the CLÁR scheme and municipal district funding, this garden is a successful demonstration of what a community working towards inclusion can achieve. We are so lucky to be a part of a community and county that continues to be inspired by one another and is so connected that we provide fantastic places such as this garden for all people to enjoy,” said Trina.

She outlined some of the benefits of the facility: “Sensory gardens have a vast range of benefits. It is a garden environment that is user friendly and designed with the purpose to stimulate the senses and encourage garden guests to touch, admire, and listen. They can be themed, divided into sections, or presented as a whole.

“These gardens allow people with autism and different needs to explore their senses in a safe and stimulating environment. It will enable them to explore their senses without feeling overwhelmed.”

The inspiration of Bernie Nelson, CAPS is a registered charity and the first of its kind in Cavan. It was set up to support the parents and carers, and children and adults living with autism in County Cavan and surrounding counties. It is run by parents, carers, and volunteer workers. CAPS provides a wide range of events and activities including camps, day trips, social clubs such as their Computer Club and Saturday Club and monthly social mornings.

The sensory garden in Ballyjamesduff is yet another example of not only the hard work CAPS is doing within the community but Trina explains it is more than that

“It’s also an example of also how Cavan is accepting of people with autism and indeed additional needs in general,” she said.