Major fundraiser for Sunflower Chernobyl appeal this weekend

A fundraiser in aid of a multi-sensory facility for the Sunflower Chernobyl Appeal will take place this Saturday August 9. The fundraiser will take place in the Western Hotel, Prospect Hill, at 6.30pm and will have performances from Shane Warner, Cafe Minor, and Jackhammer Purr. There will also be live performance puppetry, juggling, and poetry.

Dozens of Chernobyl children visited the Utopia multi-sensory centre last week as part of a month’s recuperation. The Utopia centre for multi-sensory therapy, further training, and communication offers ‘snoezelen’ rooms, consultancy, and equipment to create relaxation therapy to suit the needs of each individual client.

Snoezelen therapy has been proven internationally to relieve the symptoms of physical and intellectual disabilities in children and adults.

Invented by Dutch psychologists, the Snoezelen rooms include multi-sensory equipment such as a music waterbed, bubble tubes, a bubble machine, a video projector, and massage and aromatherapy equipment. The different sights and sounds in the custom-made rooms allow individuals to feel relaxed and less anxious.

The therapy can also lead to a decrease in depression, fear, burnt-out syndrome, and calm dementia sufferers into feeling secure again. Alzheimer sufferers can also avail of the therapeutic nature of the multi-sensory therapy, by having family photos projected on the wall, and their favourite music played in the background.

The multi-sensory approach also helps to decrease spasms and cramps, while it is also effective in pain relief and management, including rheumatic pain, back pain, and cancer.

Chris Engel, the man behind the snoezelen room in Galway city, also runs drama and art workshops for people with and without disabilities, and believes it is important to bring together every type of person.

Mr Engel, originally from Germany, has worked with special needs for more than 14 years. “I have seen the snoezelen rooms having an immense calming effect on people. They come out after 45 minutes or an hour and are totally relaxed. There is no way to compare how they leave after treatment with how they were feeling before.”

Pat Dylan, the director of Sunflower Chernobyl Appeal has worked with the charity for 10 years, and helps in bringing children from Belarus and institutions to Ireland for medical and relaxation treatment. They have brought more than 700 underprivileged and abandoned children from orphanages, or with special needs, to Ireland and Pat believes that it benefits them immensely.

“Our camp gives children a carefree month away from their usual environment and helps them to develop their social skills and give them medical treatment.”

The Sunflower Chernobyl Appeal works in the contaminated areas, in eight different institutions, It provides daycare centres to help parents cope with their children and provide support to those with special needs.

The charity is hoping to raise enough funds to purchase equipment and install it in a children’s orphanage in Minsk, and the volunteers are appealing to people of Galway to support them in raising the necessary funds.

To support the charity, tickets to the fundraising gig in the Western Hotel on Saturday cost €10. For more information about snoezelen therapy rooms and the fundraiser visit or tel Chris Engel (087 ) 7529526.


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