THERE was a $3.6 million surprise in the recent State Budget for Leongatha’s South Gippsland Specialist School (SGSS), with principal Heather Braden delighted to hear the news.

“We’re hoping to create a new building for our students with high needs,” Heather said.

She said the exciting news “came out of the blue”.

The school’s student numbers have doubled over about the last 10 years, with three portable buildings now on site.

Heather envisages the possibility of creating a sensory garden incorporating a range of textures such as sand and water.

She is also interested in investigating the prospect of establishing a Snoezelen multi-sensory environment.

“Snoezelen can aid learning, help to relax an agitated person or stimulate someone who has sensory processing disorders,” a Snoezelen products supplier states.

Snoezelen rooms are specially designed to deliver stimuli to various senses, using means such as lighting effects, colour, sounds, music, and scents.

The approach had its origins in the 1970s, with two Dutch therapists experimenting with a sensory tent.

Their goal was to increase enjoyment and sensory experience for those with intellectual disabilities.

Soon after, the term Snoezelen was coined, being a contraction of the Dutch verbs ‘snuffelen’ (to seek and explore) and ‘doezelen (to relax).

The establishment of an independent living skills centre is another idea that has been raised.

A couple of SGSS students the Sentinel-Times chatted to have their own thoughts on what they would like to see some of the newly announced funding go towards.

Senior student Sky would love more play equipment installed, including a monkey bar and a trampoline, along with a pull-up bar and a basketball ring.

Middle school pupil Tyler is also keen on getting play equipment, particularly a spider swing.

Being a keen rider, he’d also take to a bike track, saying jumps would be a great inclusion.

SGSS is one of 36 Victorian special schools to be allocated funding for upgrades in the latest Victorian Budget.

“They’re saying that we will receive at least $3.682 million to upgrade and modernise the school, including new permanent facilities,” Heather said.