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Communication board to be installed at Holywell Pond

22 March 2023

A communication board which allows children who are non-speaking to communicate how they are feeling and what they want to do will be installed at Holywell Ponds in Longthorpe this week.

It’s the latest in a series of installations of communication boards at parks across the city (and the wider country), led by Dan Harris, 43, whose nine-year-old son Josh is autistic and non-speaking.

Dan contacted his local councillors, Wayne Fitzgerald and Lynne Ayres, after the city council received funding to improve parks and open spaces as part of the Towns Fund. The first communications board was installed at Longthorpe Village Park in November 2021.

The latest communication board will be installed at Holywell Ponds in Longthorpe on Thursday (23 March) at 3.30pm. The board will have a number of images and symbols which will allow children who are non-speaking to communicate how they are feeling and what they want to do.

Dan said: “It is great news to see another open space in our city benefit from a communications board. Not only do they make our beautiful open spaces more enjoyable for children who are non-speaking, they also raise awareness of autism and get people talking about those children who communicate in other ways than the ‘standard’ verbal communication.

“Communication does not always need to mean verbal communication. My little boy may not necessarily verbalise what he wants, but he can use technology and pictures to communicate. Without the board he may get upset and frustrated as he can find it difficult to communicate what he wants, but now he can simply go up to board and point his finger to show what he wants. These communication boards truly give him a voice!”

Councillor Nigel Simons, cabinet member for street scene and the environment at Peterborough City Council, said: “I know that communication boards have been well received in numerous other locations around the city and so it is great news that a further board will be installed at Holywell Pond.

“It is so important that our local open spaces are accessible to all children, and I look forward to seeing Holywell Pond being enjoyed by even more children and families. We always want to make sure we involve local people in how we make our open spaces more accessible and would like to thank Dan for working with us on this.”