Family celebrates completion of sensory garden for disabled son

Photo of Cameron Alderman and his family.

A Bradley Stoke couple have celebrated the completion of a sensory garden at their home, specially designed for their disabled son to enjoy, thanks to the support of friends and charitable organisations who raised over £3,000 to bring the project to fruition.

Photo of Cameron in the new sensory garden at his home.

Four-year-old Cameron Alderman, who was born deafblind, lives with his mum Carla Golledge, her partner Adam Alderman and his two sisters, Morgan, 8, and Indie, 10 months.

The family moved to Bradley Stoke just under a year ago from Kingswood and live in a bungalow that has been specially adapted to meet Cameron’s needs.

Cameron’s condition has affected every aspect of his development including mobility, speech, behaviour and understanding. He is a part-time wheelchair user, non-verbal and has recently had surgery to place a permanent feeding tube. Although he currently has some hearing capability in one ear, this is expected to diminish as he gets older.

Mum Carla told the Journal:

“Raising a deafblind child brings many challenges to everyday life, such as accessing the environment safely. Although we face many challenges, Cameron is a happy little boy who brings such joy to our lives.”

The family has received support from Sense, the national charity that supports people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs, to enjoy more independent lives.

They first came into contact with Sense when Cameron was diagnosed with Norrie disease at the age of three months. They began visiting The Sense Woodside Family Centre in Kingswood, where the staff provided emotional support to the family, helped them meet people in similar situations and also provided Cameron with one-to-one support, working with him at home and in the community.

Photo of part of the sensory garden.

Explaining the benefits of the garden, Carla said:

“A sensory garden is a safe and accessible garden that can be explored through all of the senses. We have different textures such as sand, grass and gravel to explore, herbs and plants to smell, windchimes to listen to and a lazy spa hot tub which provides him with hydro therapy to help improve his mobility.”

“It is so important for Cameron to stimulate his other senses in order to learn, as 80 percent of what you learn is usually through the visual channel. He feels most confident at home in his own environment and being able to walk outdoors is something he has been working so hard for over the last six months. He has already gained so much more independence in the short time of using the garden.”

“The garden also provides all of us as a family a calming relaxing environment away from the stresses of weekly hospital appointments.”

The fundraising originally began back in March, when Carla’s old school friend Laura Jones organised a charity ball. This raised over £700, which helped the family make the garden safe.

A large proportion of the remaining cost of the garden was raised for the family by Bristol musician Darren Sims, via his Daz’s Rock 4 Charity initiative. As well as travelling around the country performing at small local gigs and events, Darren organises big charity events that raise substantial sums of money for people in need (totalling over £400,000 since 2007).

The family met Darren Sims through mutual friends at previous public charity events and quickly became good friends as Cameron adores his music.

Carla continued:

“In May, Darren said he would like to help the family get the work finished and set a target of raising £500. He provided live music, alongside auctions and much more at a charity event and ended up raising an amazing £2,500, which has enabled us to improve the garden even more.”

All of the hard work involved in building the garden has been undertaken by Carla’s partner Adam, leading to him being shortlisted for Sense’s Carer of the Year 2017 Award.

Eldest daughter Morgan has also been recognised by the charity, receiving a Young Sibling of the Year Award in 2016 for all of the care she has provided to her younger brother. She also helped raise awareness of deafblindness by inviting Sense into her previous school.

The family hosted a barbecue on August bank holiday Monday at which friends and those who have donated were able to see the garden for the first time.

• Follow Cameron’s journey on the family’s Facebook blog ‘Camerons Smile’.

View of the sensory garden.

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 30 & 31). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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