Raquel Hartley from The Reilly Room Project and Jeanie Vallance at the launch of the new Reilly Room at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort. Photo: Riptide Creative
Raquel Hartley from The Reilly Room Project and Jeanie Vallance at the launch of the new Reilly Room at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort. Photo: Riptide Creative

Resort unveils new sensory room for children with autism

A new feature has officially opened at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort that is set to create a special space for children on the autism spectrum and their families.

The sensory room, dubbed The Reilly Room, contains items typically found in an autism-specific education setting and aims to help families enjoy a holiday retreat.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner Greg McKinnon said the room was a true passion project for his team.

“We have an abundance of fantastic facilities and activities here, but this sensory room will offer something unique in allowing families with children on the spectrum to enjoy a great Australian holiday,” Mr McKinnon said.

“We would love to see more of these sensory rooms all around Australia and we cannot thank Gail and The Reilly Room volunteers enough for setting this up and for training our staff.

“We are honoured to support Reilly’s legacy.”

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The Reilly Room has been built at the resort in conjunction with Gail Watts, founder of The Reilly Room Project, and volunteers from the organisation.

Ms Watts is a qualified special needs teacher and the proud mother of Reilly, who had Asperger’s syndrome.

The room is lovingly dedicated to Reilly as he died in August 2018.

It contains many features including a freestanding hammock that can be used to rock a toddler or for an adult to rock themselves, a large crash mat, weighted blankets, an ocean projection and music player that provides calming sounds.

The room also has a sensory toy box with items to fascinate and calm children as well as other activities such as kinetic sand, play dough, colouring and drawing.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner Greg McKinnon and marketing manager Tanya Cran with Raquel Hartley from The Reilly Room Project and Jeanie Vallance at the launch of the new Reilly Room at the resort. Photo: Riptide Creative
BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort owner Greg McKinnon and marketing manager Tanya Cran with Raquel Hartley from The Reilly Room Project and Jeanie Vallance at the launch of the new Reilly Room at the resort. Photo: Riptide Creative

Whitsunday resident Bronwyn Sainsbury said she experienced first-hand the challenges that could be associated with holidays for families with children on the spectrum.

“The addition of The Reilly Room at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort will allow families, like mine and many others I know, to go away for a few days or on a holiday, knowing that there is a safe place available if our children become overwhelmed,” she said.

“It is clear that a lot of thought and planning has gone into the creation of this room, with items to meet sensory needs, calming activities and even a social script for the families to use before they arrive.

“Holidays can be incredibly stressful for families with autistic children.

“This facility will be extremely valuable for many families who may not have been able to enjoy and participate in family holidays before this.”

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Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler said she was excited to see the premier resort implement the sensory room.

“As a destination, we strive to ensure that every family and every person in Australia can enjoy a fantastic and wonderful Whitsunday holiday, so we are extremely supportive of this amazing new initiative,” she said.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is the only BIG4 Holiday Park in Queensland and the fourth to launch a Reilly Room in Australia.

More information about the BIG4 room can be found here and further details about The Reilly Room Project can be found here.



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