LIFE-Changing Stories, a campaign from Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books to bring books and stories to life for North East children with additional needs has beaten its target of £7000 in under a month.

The museum and gallery, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, launched the campaign to raise £7000 to fund a range of fully accessible events and experiences that will allow children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to step into their favourite stories in an inclusive and sensory environment.

In light of the incredible achievement, the charity has announced that they are now looking to stretch the target by £500 to specifically fund opening the Visitor Centre later to enable families with additional needs to enjoy a quieter experience of Seven Stories. Seven Stories audience research shows that families would benefit from later opening times and by allowing families this flexibility the centre aims to encourage even more children to embrace books; raising their aspirations and providing a platform for building confidence levels, coping with feelings and language and learning.

Kate Edwards, chief executive of Seven Stories said:Seven Stories

“I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the North East community and our friends across the UK. You have helped us to open up the colourful, wonderful world of children’s books to lots more children and families with additional needs. All of the money raised will go towards making our activities more accessible to children with additional needs and their families by providing sensory resources that will bring our exhibitions, events and stories to life in a whole new way."

“Our brand new exhibition, Time to Get Up, encourages children and grown-ups to engage their senses and touch, smell, listen and see stories in a whole new way.  The original artwork and manuscripts in the exhibition will be displayed using an entirely new method inspired by touch and feel boards, a first for a British cultural venue. This unique method of curation enables children to explore new, immersive and inclusive ways of engaging directly with the original artwork in the gallery. Young story explorers can see, touch, smell and hear their way through a variety of sensory activities, all linked to the exciting new experiences and routines that every young child encounters."

“Our ambition is for Seven Stories to be a hub for parents and carers of children with disabilities to socialise, play and learn more about how to enrich their children’s lives through the wonderful world of children’s books."

As well as providing additional sensory experiences and BSL / Makaton interpretation for performances and story times, the money raised will also allow the team to increase opportunities for children with additional needs and their families to experience Seven Stories in a calmer, quieter environment.

Beth Coverdale, learning and participation co-ordinator and access champion said:

“Hustle and bustle can be overwhelming and we want to offer high-quality sensory performances tailored for children with additional access needs.  Our relaxed story times and performances will have all the magic of a Seven Stories event and will provide a supportive but informal atmosphere for everyone that needs it. These sensory performances have a slightly smaller audience capacity than other showings, to help contribute to a calmer environment for children experiencing stress or anxiety.”

Seven Stories is one of the leading inclusive cultural venues in the region and was awarded the Inclusive Tourism Award at the annual North East England Tourism Awards in 2017.

Money raised through the campaign was eligible for match funding through the Newcastle Culture Investment Fund, in partnership with Newcastle City Council and the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and has been kindly matched now the centre has successfully reached their target.

To pledge your support to Seven Stories and children and families across the North East visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/life-changing-stories  today and join the conversation online by using #lifec
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