Paralympian Aaron Phipps opens £4.9million hub for students with special needs at Brockenhurst College
GOLD medal-winning Paralympian Aaron Phipps has officially opened a new £4.9m education facility for college students with special needs.
The wheelchair rugby star, who won gold in Tokyo, cut the ribbon at Brockenhurst College’s new Foundation and Independence Hub alongside county council and college representatives.
Reflecting on the challenges he faced as a double lower-limb amputee, Totton-born Aaron said of the hub: “We never had anything like this.”
Before cutting the ribbon – which was held by two Foundation Studies students – he added: “You’re going to make so many stories and so many memories, you’re literally going to change people’s lives.”
A college spokesperson said the hub offers “improved educational and social opportunities” for young people with special educational needs or disabilities.
The hub has two wings, each with its own dedicated garden area, with one offering Foundation Studies curriculum study areas. The other is equipped for “high-level, one-to-one support” from healthcare practitioners and learning assistants.
The building has 14 new classrooms plus social and staff space, meeting rooms and a student kitchen for learning how to prepare meals. There is also a physical therapy room and a hygiene room, both equipped with hoists, and a sensory room packed with colourful fibre optic lighting.
The Department for Education’s Post-16 Capacity Fund provided £4m in funds, while £0.9m came from Hampshire County Council’s High Needs Capital Funding.
College principal Helen Odhams said: “This hub is actually for all of us. It’s a place where we can all continue to learn about diversity, empathy and the importance of inclusion.”