How we make a difference

Izzie O'Riordan -

When Zach’s application form got dropped on my desk one afternoon in July, I could never have predicted what a journey the next seven months would be. 

From the outset we wanted to do something special to help this family. It’s hard enough to comprehend what Zach actually has been diagnosed with (including a benign brain tumour encasing two cranial nerves, hydrocephalus, global development impairment, autism and ataxia), and these don’t even cover a number of unexplained disorders.

It’s an awful lot for a four year old to deal with, especially one who cannot communicate how he is feeling, what is distressing him, and why. There was only one place Tricy saw Zach completely relax and this was a sensory room. It was the only place Zach could engage with his parents, the only place they could really interact with him.

Thanks to the tremendous support we received following a dedicated appeal for Zach at the Travel Convention last October, we raised enough money to build Zach his very own sensory room. His family were simply overwhelmed with the generosity shown by the travel industry.

Before we knew it, room plans had been signed off, items chosen and the date was booked!

The two day build began last Thursday and Trudie and I travelled up North on Friday to meet the family and film the big reveal. The snow didn’t stop us and we arrived to the warmest welcome from Zach’s parents.

We could really see just how much this project meant to the family, and it was amazing to meet Zach and physically see where your donations are going, something we don’t often get to do.

By late afternoon the time had come for the big reveal. None of us had even sneaked a peek. I could feel myself bursting with excitement so I couldn’t imagine how Zach’s family must have been feeling.

As soon as Zach saw the room, he began confidently exploring the individual items that had been specifically chosen for him. He repeated the numbers that were called out as he pressed a button and confidently chanted the beginning of the alphabet. For a little boy who had difficulties communicating, this was remarkable.

With emotions running high, it was time for us to leave the family in peace, give them their home back and let them enjoy this new sanctuary.

Zach's mother Tricy, wanted to thank everyone in the industry for giving her little boy a quality of life that is priceless. This is what the room means to her...

"Having his room at home not only gives Zach a place of safety and tranquility during high anxieties, it is also a safe space to develop his language, communication and social skills on a daily basis. Zach is already repeating the numbers on his interactive circle, a huge step forward. I have had countless cuddles on his musical waterbed which has been extremely emotional as Zach struggles to show affection. It's given us and our family and friends the opportunity to enter Zach's world and give us an understanding of how we can build a stronger mutual bond. When Zach has operations or episodes it's going to help with his recovery. All of our expectations of having a room like this have been exceeded. We are truly grateful for all the support from ABTA LifeLine and all the wonderful people that donated and made this all possible".  

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