Published On 09 August 2019 at 09:30 AM

Sutherland Shire Council’s libraries will now be more accessible to people with low or limited vision and children with autism, thanks to a $7,500 ‘Great Expectations’ grant from Ability Links NSW.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce said the grant from the disability support program would help make our libraries more inclusive.

“Our libraries are welcoming spaces for all, and a place people who love books and reading should be able to enjoy,” said Mayor Pesce.

“This grant has enabled us to implement some great new programs that will improve the library experience for many people in our community.

“The grant has allowed more audio books to be included in our book club kits, so that book group members with low or limited vision will now have access to a wider range of titles, including new and upcoming releases.”

Anyone can become a member of the libraries and join one of the 23 existing book groups across our library branches.

Other initiatives that will benefit from the grants will be the new Sensitive Storytimes and Calm Corner at Engadine Library.

Sensitive Storytimes will now be available once every school term and have been specially designed to reduce sensory input for young children with autism.

Thanks to the Great Expectations grant, part of the library will be transformed into The Cubby, which will include a range of therapeutic toys, tools and books such as a ‘wobble’ chair, weighted lap pads and a sensory tent.

To complement this, once a month a Calm Corner will also be available at Engadine Library.

“Our library staff have been told that parents of children with autism sometimes worry about coming to public places like the library,” Mayor Pesce said.  

 “The Calm Corner will now provide them peace of mind that there is a low stimulus space to retreat to, if their child gets overwhelmed.”

Inclusive book groups are now available and the Sensitive Storytime sessions will begin for children with autism in September. Community members interested in taking part are encouraged to contact their local library.

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