Lego exhibition opens up whole new world for kids with special needs

  • 08/01/2019

A popular Lego display featuring models of some of the world's most iconic landmarks has opened its doors to children with special needs and disabilities.

More than 20 children attended a sensory-friendly session at the Brickman 'Wonders of the World' Lego exhibition in Christchurch on Monday afternoon.

For the first time in the event's history, a session was designed for individuals who have mobility challenges, struggle to communicate or become easily overwhelmed by stimuli.

Visitor numbers were reduced by half, no audio/visual material was played and Lego creations were kept still to keep noise at a minimum.

The Wonders of the World exhibition took creator Ryan 'The Brickman' McNaught and his expert team 4944 hours to build, using more than seven tonnes of Lego bricks.

Children and parents have been impressed by the exhibition currently in Christchurch.
Children and parents have been impressed by the exhibition currently in Christchurch. Photo credit: Supplied.

Kelly Dugan, the founder of SmileDial, a Christchurch-based charity that supports families of children with special needs, said the controlled environment provided by sensory-friendly events is appreciated by families of kids who benefit from them.  

"It sounds like the simplest thing, but for our families it's huge," Mr Dugan said.

"Without sensory sessions most of our families wouldn't go at all, as the large crowds, music and bright lights are often too overwhelming for their kids.

"It is also appreciated by the parents and caregivers, as it allows them to do something fun with their kids that they normally wouldn't do."

The majority of children in attendance were aged between six and 10 years old, and accompanied by their families.

The initiative was also backed by Autism New Zealand who supports sensory events gaining momentum throughout the country.

Chief Executive Dane Dougan says the sessions represent a positive step towards making society more inclusive for people with special needs.

The Wonders of the World exhibition is in Wigram, Christchurch, until January 20 at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

It includes 50 models of landmarks from around the world, including the Empire State Building, Arc De Triomphe and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.