A former Tamworth mayor has dug deep to make a difference to the lives of hundreds of local children.
Warwick Bennet AM, who wore the mayoral robe from 1979 to 1986, recently donated $18,000 for the development of a Sensory Wellness Room, which opened recently at Tamworth's Challenge Disability Services.
Sensory rooms utilise lighting, sound, art, music and objects as therapeutic experiences, and are particularly helpful for children with limited communication skills, and other disabilities.
"The part that really gets me is that people are already using it and loving it," Mr Bennet said.
"That's what you want to see if you give a donation - that it's not wasted."
Challenge CEO Barry Murphy was over the moon to be able to add a new dynamic and service to the organisation, and praised Mr Bennet for his generosity.
"People with varying degrees of disability, particularly those with high-support needs, just find it so calming," he said.
"It's wonderful to have people who come along and say, 'What can we do for you?"
Sensory rooms have been around for decades in different forms, although in recent years the treatment has been embraced globally for its record of, and growing potential to improve lives.
The overall goal is to enable a person with a disability to control and interact with their environment in a calm, gentle way, and outcomes can include anything from reduced stress and anxiety, to regulation of emotions, greater wellbeing or simply a sense of relaxation.
The Tamworth sensory room includes includes plush couches and beanbags, dramatic, colourful and textural artwork, a miniature indoor garden space with a tree enveloped in lights, a ceiling 'skylight', and more.
Newcastle-based artist Bliss Cavanagh designed and constructed the room, and relied on her experience living with Tourette's Syndrome, and her passion for helping others to create the space.
"My hope is that it will continue to support clients with disabilities for many years to come," she said.