Sunday 14 July 2019

Sensory Souls Train Day 2019

Over the past few years we've attended a few sensory friendly events that were organised and conducted by an organisation called Sensory Souls. We've been to numerous Sensory Santa sessions, Stand Up Paddle Boarding and a train event last year.

Sensory Souls is a Queensland based organisation that organises, coordinates and conducts sensory friendly events for individuals who have additional needs both in Queensland and in other states of Australia. They recently won the Disability and Inclusion category in the National Awards for Local Government in conjunction with the Moreton Bay Regional Council for the Backstage Pass Program. The Backstage Pass allows families and individuals access to Council Libraries after hours in a low sensory environment.

Sensory Souls was originally developed to support families, children and individuals to have fun in a range of positive experiences and activities in a safe an judgement free environment. Initially Sensory Souls organised Sensory Santa sessions and they've now evolved into offering other activities and experiences.

For those not in the know, a sensory friendly event typically looks like a pretty ordinary outing. It differs in that the number of participants are limited so that the activity is not too overcrowded, the noise or music may be kept to a minimum so as not to overwhelm the participants and the lights may be dimmed if the event is at an indoor venue. Most of the events are activities that the majority of society would take for granted but for children and adults who have sensory processing difficulties, keeping all the above factors at a minimum, means that the likelihood of the child or adult having a meltdown because they are in sensory overload is less likely.

During the last school holidays, Sensory Souls ran their very popular Train Day. We went along to this for last year and the little superheroes had a ball. So off we went again, this time we took two of their friends.

The Train Day is conducted at the Pine Valley Railway by the Queensland Society of Model and Experimental Engineers - a huge group of individuals from all walks of life who share a common interest ... making engineering models of trains. Lots of trains. In other words, they're just big kids who love the trains!

The Pine Valley Railway is open to the public by invitation only and once a year the members of the organisation join forces with Sensory Souls to conduct a train day for children and adults who have additional needs.

The Pine Valley Railway truly is spectacular. It's situated on a piece of landscaped land that is five acres in size and has over 2000 metres of ground level track and approximately 180 metres of elevated track. There are tunnels, bridges, round houses, signal boxes, train crossings and all of the other things that you'd expect to see on a real life train line. There are also areas for children to run around and play, picnic tables and a small canteen.

In terms of the trains there are steam trains and replicas of diesel locomotives. There was even a replica of the Pacific National, a HUGE LOONG freight train!

The steam trains when under full steam were truly spectacular.

This Mama spotted the little red caboose and was in love. One of my all time favourite Golden Books as a child was the story about the little red Caboose. By the end of the day, there were lots of photos of the little red caboose on my camera!!

On the Train day, the members of QSMEE had numerous trains running for the families to ride on. Trains were leaving the main train station every ten minutes or so, so everyone was able to have numerous train rides. O, L and their two friends were very impressed that each time they rode a train, they went around the circuit three times! And when on the steam train, they were quick to remind each other "close your eyes and mouth in the tunnel!" Otherwise you might get a mouth full of smoke and steam!


O and her fiend G, were fascinated by the scribbly lines on one of the old gum trees so I took the opportunity to give them a little nature lesson. Scribbly Gums are spectacular Australian Eucalyptus species that get their name from the scibbly lines that are left on their smooth bark. The tracks are tunnels that are made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum Moth!

If you are interested in visiting the Pine Valley Railway, you'll need to visit their website and send off an expression to visit the site. As I previously mentioned, the site is invitation only so make sure you get in early as I'm told their open days are very popular and they are book out very early.

Sensory Souls is a not for profit organisation and they do rely heavily on their volunteer base to run these events as well as their sponsors. So from our family to Leah and Chanelle and all at Sensory Souls, thank you for everything that you do. We truly do appreciate these events.

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