Tag Archives: Meldreth Manor

Great Donate time again! Recycle your wardrobe

Time again to have a good clear out after receiving all those nice new Christmas presents and help us replenish the supplies of Scope charity shops with some clean, quality goods.

Can you help us? Every bag you fill up is worth about £20 to Scope. Ladies handbags and belts bring a lot of money in and any brand named clothing items.

We do this several times a year from Meldreth and take our bags to our local Scope charity shop in Cambridge. We would like to ask parents and friends to participate this year. If you are coming to visit residents in the next few weeks please drop off your bags in reception as close to Friday 18 January as possible.

Our residents will deliver the bags to the Cambridge store on Wednesday 23 January.

Thank you for your continued support.

Meldreth Manor School and The Skoog

Guest post from Petrina Lodge, Head of Education at Meldreth Manor School.

What is a Skoog?

See a Skoog below, and then read how we are using Skoogs at Meldreth Manor School to enhance our students’ communication and IT skills, their self-awareness and sense of control over things in their lives (cause and effect) and, importantly, to have fun!

This is a Skoog.

This is a Skoog. It’s a completely new kind of instrument. But it’s not just one instrument, it’s lots of instruments in a multi-coloured box of technology.

The Skoog is an exciting new musical instrument designed to empower those unable to play traditional instruments. The Skoog is a soft, squeezable object that simply plugs straight into your computer or laptop’s USB port. By touching, pressing, squashing, twisting or tapping the Skoog you can play a wide range of instruments, intuitively.

Simply touch, press, squash, twist, or tap to play the Skoog using any part of your body!

Designed to adapt and fit with your own natural movements, the Skoog sets you free to explore sounds and music in your own way.

By adjusting the Skoog you can challenge yourself and grow as a musician. Whether you have very limited mobility or bags of agility, you can make your Skoog fit your style.

Meldreth Manor School and skoogs

I think this is one of the most exciting technological developments for disabled children and adults of any age, for some time. It has been designed for accessibility for even really severely disabled children and adults, challenging each user at their own level.

At its most simple, this is a touch/sound response user-friendly cube, with different settings of sensitivity: the whole of the side of the cube, the button and area around it, are sensitive to touch of different types and pressures. It can be set to produce one sound per touch or multiple sounds depending on where it is touched, and how hard. It requires a USB connection to a computer – which doesn’t have to be sophisticated though it doesn’t work well on small computers such as notebook. It needs a long USB cable so that the PC or Laptop doesn’t end up on the floor, though The Skoog is very durable – it can be thrown or dropped or bounced and it will simply respond with sound.

Add to this that it can be used with a MIDI interface for as many sounds as you would want, and any sound-effect can be included in this, the fact that’s it’s recordable and can be programmed to suit any child or adult and played at any level, and you can see how exciting it is.

Playing with backing music

Students can play their own sound or play along with any backing music or other students: the musical key of the Skoog can be changed to fit whatever music is being used. All files can be saved using ‘Wave’ as one of several options.

More able students can use scores which consist of blobs of the colour of the face of the cube, linked to length for duration. Interactive scores are available which fill in the circle when the note has been played.

Lastly, but by no means least, the Skoog can be used to record sound – of any sort, from voice to vocalisation, to instrument: the sound file can be amended, so the Skoog can be used to help with Speech and Language therapy for working on vocalisations, and adapting them with students for greater clarity and understanding, or in articulating two separate sounds into one – such as blending sounds.

Words (and tunes) of songs can be pre-recorded for one word or phrase on each face of the cube and the student can repeat the song by getting the sequence correct.

The touch can be adjusted from very sensitive (so the sound is easily produced) to much less so, where there is much more control about producing the sound, whatever it is.

We are seeing really encouraging responses from students with very varied abilities.

Notes written by a music technologist

“I think there is a lot of potential for Tony to become a terrific Skoog player. He (then) played some distorted electric guitar by pressing and rocking the Skoog backwards, forwards, and to the sides. I opened a video on YouTube of Jimi Hendrix and Tony played along with the electric guitar. One of Tony’s favourite bands is The Rolling Stones, so we found a video of a live performance from them and he thoroughly enjoyed playing along…”

Tony is a teenager who has a life-limiting condition which is causing a gradual decline in his mobility and use of hands. Creating a sense of achievement is vital to Tony’s well-being, as well as helping maintain his fine motor skills.

And another excerpt, this time about our student called Kieran:

“I found him a clip from YouTube of David* playing saxophone for Van der Graff Generator and gave Kieran a trumpet sound on the Skoog. Kieran used his left hand mostly but also the right hand when encouraged to do so. He clearly enjoyed the session…”

* ‘David’ is David Jackson, our Soundbeam specialist who runs Soundbeam sessions at Meldreth Manor School for all our students.

The opportunities for using The Skoog are endless, watch this space!


Orchard Manor’s Paralympic Experience

Paralympics fan

Residents, students and staff from Meldreth and Orchard Manor were excited to be given tickets to attend the Paralympic Games this summer.

The Friends of Meldreth and Orchard Manor organised tickets for three Paralympic events including wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and swimming. Dozens of young people  had the experience of a lifetime as they watched British paralympians make history.

Up at the crack of dawn on several days, everyone made their way in our buses to the various Olympic sites. Sat navs were programmed, packed lunches prepared, bags full of clothing and necessities ready. All the effort this kind of outing required was rewarded the moment we entered into the Olympic grounds. From the car park attendants to the volunteer ushers, the security guards and the novelty sales people, everyone had a smile on their face and a joke to make, a way to make you feel welcome and part of a momentous occasion.

No task was too great to ask of the Games Makers, who won all our hearts with their enthusiasm and acts of kindness and consideration throughout the Games. Orchard Manor were the recipients of their kindness when we arrived a little late for our Women’s Basketball session. After a few technical glitches one Games Maker offered to find us some better seating. We had found all the wheelchair access seating superb at other events, so you can imagine our delight at now getting taken to the courtside seating area just as England were playing! Screams and cheers erupted and smiles were on everyone’s faces as we joined the event.

The young people were enthralled by the sound of so many people, by the colours around them of flags and costumes and the sensory environments they found themselves in. The excitement of the days rubbed off on everyone. Strangers from all over the world chatted to you as you made your way through the park as though they were your next door neighbour. The group I was lucky enough to be with enjoyed an afternoon lunch sitting along the river within the Olympic Park on wooden benches surrounded by the wild flowers beds. We strolled around the park taking in all the wondrous sights, stopping with tea and biscuits before finding our way to the car park.

It was an astonishing feeling to see an event as large as this made so accessible to so many people. Our thanks go to the special dedicated group of Friends who made it is possible for us all to be part of this historical event – we have the badges, the souvenir programmes, the t-shirts and the wonderful memories to prove it!

Work experience a booming success in Meldreth

Meldreth work experience

Residents at Orchard Manor are part of a work experience programme set up last year to support the Meldreth Manor School reception. Students from the school are also part of the successful programme.

This experience has proved immensely popular with some young people whilst others have discovered it is not their calling.

Care staff support young people who enjoy the interaction with staff and visitors and have expressed a desire to work at the busy reception. Beth is one of the new receptionists. Besides welcoming visitors in a polite and professional manner and making sure everyone is signed in, Beth ensures the barrier is opened to let visitors onto the site and also promotes the sales of our apple juice (an annual fundraising endeavour). A task list with Makaton signs supports her to perform other administrative tasks, such as filling the photocopier with paper, doing some shredding, sorting out post and giving out messages.

Two young people who moved on from Orchard Manor to our first move on residence in Histon, Cambridge, also work as part of the work experience team and return to do their weekly shifts. This also gives them the opportunity to catch up with old friends.