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Project Title:                    Pens Meadow School, Dudley

Lead Club:                        District 1210: Dudley Rotary Club

Partner Club:                   District 1650: Brest – Côtes des Légendes, France

Project Description:        The project is to provide a playground and specialist play equipment for children with special needs. 

Total Project Cost:           $55,268 US

Total Grant Funding:        $24,957 US

Grant Type:                       Matching Grant

Pens Meadow School is a Special School situated in Wordsley, a suburb of Dudley, which caters for children between the ages of 3 and 19.  All pupils have severe learning difficulties.  One third of the pupils have profound and multiple learning difficulties and 40% have an autistic spectrum disorder.

Giving the pupils opportunities to learn through play in a meaningful way is essential to their well-being and development.  The current play environment is inaccessible to many of them and un-motivating to others.  Providing a new playground will create a stimulating environment for integration having a well-designed, safe and accessible play area which is flexible enough to meet the complex needs of the school population will enhance and enrich the opportunities for all pupils.

Dudley Rotary Club has supported the school in a relatively modest way over many years.   Early in 2012 the Community Service Chairman, Peter Marsh, approached the Head Teacher and asked if there was anything that the school needed, which the Club could provide.  To the horror of the Club the Head came up with a wish list for a new playground at a cost of about £35,000.   Having recovered from the initial shock the Club resolved to see what it could do.   Prompted by Assistant Governor Ashley Gray and advised by District Foundation Chair Richard Green it was decided to apply for a TRF Matching Grant.

 As the application is for a project in the country of the lead club it is believed that this is the first ‘inward looking’ matching grant project in RIBI.

The lead members from Dudley Rotary Club are President Graham Dean (who as a solicitor has experience in drafting applications), Community Service Chairman Peter Marsh (who is the General Manager of Interserve Support Services at Russells Hall Hospital and brings experience in project management) and Treasurer David Hughes (a retired accountant who brings experience of financial management).

The Club has a long standing link with the Rotary Club of Brest – Côtes des Légendes in France who agreed to be our International Partner.  They have generously offered $1,500 towards the project and their District (1650) agreed to match that on a 1:1 basis.    Work began on the application in mid July 2012.   The application had to be signed by three club members from Dudley and thre from Brest – Côtes des Légendes and three officers from both our District 1210  and the French District 1650.   On 27th October 2012 the completed application was emailed to The Rotary Foundation at Evanston.  The progress of the application was not without its difficulties but on 2nd January 2013 TRF emailed to say that the application had been approved.  The TRF support of $24,957 is only $43 below the upper limit for Matching Grants.

Now that the funding has been approved the next step is the implementation phase and the timescale for completion of the project is Easter 2013 ready for the commencement of the Summer Term.

The final report will be available once the project is completed.

To see more of the work of Pens Meadow School visit their website at www.pens-meadow.dudley.sch.uk

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