YOUNGSTERS at Ruskin Junior School got a lesson of a different kind yesterday when community heroes came in to talk about their work.
From a Police Community Support Officer to firefighters and even a yoga instructor, all manner of professions were represented at the Stratton primary school as part of a treat for children with autism in the Beehive special educational needs unit.
A particular highlight for the youngsters, aged between seven and 11, was Irish setter Ruby, a pet animal therapy dog that children could sit with, handle and talk to.
Karen Agambar, family coordinator at the school, said: “The children really enjoyed it and it was great to be able to get everyone to come in and talk to them at once was absolutely fantastic.”
A police dog handler, Stratton-based firefighters and a paramedic were in attendance and many of the children were able to dress up in riot gear, be bandaged like an ambulance patient and have their fingerprints taken for a keepsake.
Stratton PCSO Mandi Coles, who is also a governor at the school, called in a few favours and said she was delighted with the children’s reaction.
“The day was superb – it was so nice to see them getting into it and dressing up,” she said.
“Especially the children with special educational needs because they can be among the most vulnerable and it is important that they know we are there to help them and support them.
“The children were really excited and they particulary enjoyed the police dog display.
"One of the kids hid something and the police sniffer dog had to find it.
There were also tables set up that they could visit, including a colouring table with some police pictures and a fingerprinting area.”
Karen added that school TA Donna Simpkins dog Ruby stole the show and really brought some of the youngsters out of their shell.
She said: “Ruby was fantastic, such a beautiful dog. She usually comes in once a week and the children can read to her and express themselves in ways they sometimes can’t normally.
"It really helps their verbal communication. “
Also Jenni MacDonald, the yoga teacher, came in to help out with their mobility and their emotional wellbeing.”