Cerebra sensory pod chairs project underway thanks to Nationwide donation

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Cerebra Innovation Centre is collaborating on a project to build 10 new sensory stimulating Pod Chairs, thanks to a £10,000 donation from Nationwide.

The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) – a partnership between UWTSD and the Carmarthen-based children’s charity, Cerebra, is based at the University’s Swansea College of Art, where the team design and build innovative, bespoke products that help disabled children discover and engage with the world around them.

Curtis, who has Charge Syndrome, using one of Cerebra’s Pod Chairs (Image: UWTSD)

The Pod Chairs are sensory stimulating and empower children to feel more grounded, balanced, and safe. They are hugely popular and have already made a big difference to children like Curtis (pictured).

Curtis has Charge Syndrome, which affects him in lots of different ways. It affects his development, meaning that he can’t walk and talk, and he also has many sensory issues. He is partially sighted and partially deaf and unable to tell where his body is in space, which leads to balance issues.

Mum, Louise contacted CIC after seeing a post on their Facebook page about the Pod Chairs. She knew one would be perfect for her son and it’s become an important part of his day. Curtis can touch the floor and spin himself, which gives him independence, but it also grounds him. The benefits really have been huge.

Dr Ross Head, Associate Professor and Product Design Manager at UWTSD’s Cerebra Innovation Centre said: “The chairs we make are beautifully crafted and super tough and enable sensory seekers to spin to their heart’s content, but they are really expensive to make, so funding like this goes a long way towards helping more children with beautiful yet functional products to help enrich their lives.”

The grant is part of Nationwide’s Colleague Grant programme, where twenty-four charities received a share of just over £200,000 to support projects in areas including innovation and helping people to thrive in their own environment.

Nicola Tilson, who is part of the Nationwide team at the Rotherham branch, knows the impact projects like this have on children living with a brain condition and their families. She said: “I work really closely with Cerebra helping with fundraising events, many of which we do as a team at our Rotherham branch. When the opportunity to apply for a grant for the charity came up, I jumped at the chance. Charities have been hit by the pandemic and anything we can do to support and help them continue their valuable work with local communities is so important.”

Dr Head added: “My team and I are so thankful to Nicola and her colleagues at Nationwide for their hard work and generosity towards Cerebra.”

James Hay, Cerebra Fundraising Manager added: “We are over the moon and incredibly grateful to receive the support of Nationwide, particularly the team at the Rotherham branch. This donation will enable us to provide ten safe, sensory stimulating Pod Chairs to help even more children like Curtis.”

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