Morley childminder Linda Holmes has opened a sensory soft play centre, thought to be the first in Yorkshire, aimed specifically at babies and children with disabilities.

Sensory World was designed to provide a safe and calming environment, with specialist play equipment designed for babies and children with disabilities. The setting has lights, sounds, interactive walls and a dark room with a water bed for babies. There is also a cafe which will be made available for parties and regular play group sessions.

Owner and manager Mrs Holmes said of the setting:

“I’ve been a childminder for 19 years and have cared for a lot of children in that time, including some with additional needs. My own child also had a disability. What you realise is that although there are lots of play gyms and soft play centres, they aren’t always suitable for babies and children with a disability.”

“So I thought I’d set up my own – children without disabilities will be able to come to Sensory World but the centre is designed with disability in mind.”

She described the opening as “emotional” and said everyone was “wowed” with the facilities.

“I’m really delighted that my own MP Ed Balls has agreed to come and open the centre,” she added. “I’ve worked with Ed a lot over the last few years and I know how much he cares about finding better ways to support children with a disability.”

Mr Balls said: “There are lots of brilliant play centres around but having really good facilities specifically for babies and young children with a disability is so important.”

Mrs Holmes has also said that the centre will also provide for support groups and that teenage evenings would be held at the centre.

How important are settings like this in local communities? And how much of a difference does support from local MPs make?

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