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First look at Norfolk’s ‘Lego therapy’ bus

PUBLISHED: 08:13 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:46 25 October 2018

The Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A new Lego therapy bus is set to help children across Norfolk who struggle with communication overcome their difficulties.

The Block Bus – unveiled at the Norwich Science Festival on Tuesday – will act as a mobile classroom for schools to run sessions for children with autism and learning difficulties.

It will specialise in Lego therapy, an American invention which aims to improve children’s communication and social skills by getting them to work in teams to build structures from the iconic blocks.

The Block Bus, which will also have a chill-out zone for children to use, is the brainchild of Amy Eleftheriades, who has worked across East Anglia supporting children with communication problems.

Six years ago she founded Alpha Inclusion, which helps improve the communication skills and social interactions of high-functioning children and young people with autism using methods including Lego therapy.

The Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

For her, the Block Bus is the next step in helping schools to overcome funding shortages to provide a safe learning space for children with autism and related learning difficulties.

“I did autism outreach for Suffolk County Council, and thought we could be doing things slightly differently,” she said.

Alpha Inclusion has spawned a commercial arm, Alpha Communication, which runs team-building sessions for businesses.

Ms Eleftheriades’ goal is for the corporate side of the business to support her work with schools and to eventually help fund extra projects such as inter-generational activities.

The Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival. Owner, Amy Eleftheriades. Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival. Owner, Amy Eleftheriades. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“Doing the Lego therapy engages everyone, and it uses skills everyone needs in the workplace,” she said.

“The public sector, with its funding cuts, cannot afford all the things it wants. We can sell these services to businesses to put resources back into the community.”

Ms Eleftheriades received a £5,000 grant from the New Anglia Small Grants Scheme which provides financial support and guidance to businesses, to help purchase and fit out the Block Bus.

Her business growth adviser Robert Turnbull from New Anglia Growth Hub said she’d had an “amazing journey”.

The Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Block Bus, outside the Forum in Norwich, for Norwich Science Festival. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“Amy came to the growth hub for support with the germ of an idea. I have an educational background so we were able to speak the same language very quickly,” he said.

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