Arranounbai School is a special needs school, for children with physical disabilities and medical conditions, from preschool through to Year 12. In mid 2007, Arranounbai School and Ricoh set out to design a program to provide the students with much needed adult stimulation to help them build their confidence and communication skills.
The key challenge of designing such a program was to ensure that it was sustainable over the long term to maintain consistent staff involvement, maximise the benefit to the students and assist the volunteers in overcoming any anxieties they might have in working with children with a variety of physical disabilities and medical conditions.
A large pool of enthusiastic Ricoh volunteers is rostered for visits during their lunchtimes. Visits are generally made by each volunteer once a fortnight throughout the school year, providing excellent stimulation, structured experiences and plain fun to students of all ages. To provide everyone with a sense of continuity, volunteers are assigned to the same child on each visit.
The program has proved to be successful in building relationships with the children and staff. With the help of the volunteers, the children are expanding their communication skills, gaining confidence and increasing their self esteem. In return, reports from staff have been outstanding, indicating that the program provides them with a sense of purpose and belonging in an organisation committed to contributing to the local community and society at large.